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Kicking Rocks: The Dump Deal

Watch out, keeper league owners.  It’s that time of year again.  The hot starts have cooled down, the cold starts have heated up, your waiver wire has been picked clean, and you’re seeing a separation in your standings between the haves and the have nots.  The haves are trying to make deals to solidify their roster for a championship run while the have nots are already looking towards next year.  It doesn’t matter that there’s still almost four months left in the season and plenty of time to mount a comeback, there are those that accept defeat a little too easily and all they care about is which stud protect they can pick up just by unloading their roster to someone in the hunt for a title.  It’s time for the dump deal.

For the most part, it’s the natural course of events in a keeper league.  The higher quality players get passed down to the bottom-feeders in your league in exchange for a package of players that you probably wouldn’t protect from year to year, but are of quality enough to help your team win this year and fill in any roster holes you may have.  The following season, supposedly, those bottom-feeders become the contenders and the top ranked players get passed around again.  Ideally, that’s the case.  Ideally.

But the problem with these, though, is that these trades are usually three or four players for one and come off as egregiously lopsided.  Not collusive, but egregiously lopsided.  The team giving up the most right now doesn’t care what the price is, just as long as they are getting the best player in the deal for next season while the team trading the superstar is expecting some huge bounty because they are giving up a cornerstone of their squad.  Both parties eventually agree on some crazy, imbalanced deal and the league uproar begins.

The griping starts, the email wars commence and before you know it, you’ve spent at least half of your work day replying back and forth, standing up for whichever side you believe in.  Feelings get hurt, names get called, rule changes get debated and in the end, the crux of the discussion revolves around where you draw the line on such deals.  Can you draw a line on such deals?

The contending teams want a premium for their player and the non-contenders just don’t care what they have to pay at this moment.  Is there any point in the negotiations where either team says, “Wait a minute.  This is just too much.”?  Probably not.  The team getting the protect will tell you that they didn’t give up anyone in the deal that is worth keeping for next year, so it doesn’t matter to them while the team unloading their star for multiple role players will debate the inherent value of walking into next season with such a stud on the roster.

The debates are endless and usually remain unresolved.  Some leagues try to implement rules to try and block such deals from occurring but, more often than not, the attempts are futile because it really all comes down to subjective value.  Everyone values players differently.  Some look at a guy like Jacoby Ellsbury and see a potential 30-30 stud while others will look at him as an injury prone guy who had a fluke season with respect to power.  As it stands right now, neither is 100% wrong, are they?  So how do you determine the value of protecting a guy like him for next year?  Is the chance to keep him and hope for a repeat of his 2011 numbers worth a bounty of role players right now?  And if he is worth it, then what would be the price to pay for an underachieving Albert Pujols or a twice-DL’d Matt Kemp?

On the other side of that coin, is the value of the role players.  Are they just role players or do some of them have the potential to become keepers?  If Jason Kipnis continues to play at this level, is he worth keeping?  Some will say that he is just off to a good start but will level off while others see him as a potential 20-20 player at a relatively thin position.  Can anyone say, with 100% certainty, who is right and who is wrong here?

It all comes down to personal belief.  Sure, there are projections made and player evaluations that help guide us along each year, but they are guidelines, not the gospel.  Rarely will you get an entire league of fantasy owners to agree on the value of one particular player and because of that, these dump trades and the debates that go hand-in-hand with them will never disappear.  Like it or not, they are a staple in keeper leagues.

Besides, if one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and both parties are happy, how can it be a bad deal?