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Kicking Rocks: The Dump Trade

With the second half of the season beginning this weekend and your league’s trade deadline rapidly approaching, keeper league owners are making the same tough decision that numerous MLB teams are making.  Are they buyers or sellers?  If in contention for a top finish, keeper league owners are deciding which stud protect to deal off to bolster their roster for a run at the title while the bottom-feeders are licking their chops, ready to give up the world to get their man.  It turns into quite the ugly battle in most leagues and is usually a primary source of fantasy angst.  But like it our not, it’s reality.  Welcome to the dump trade.

The arguments both for and against the dump trade are plentiful.  Those that are in favor of them usually come from two schools of thought.  The folks at the bottom of the standings cite that they are building for the future.  They are not giving up players that they would protect and should be allowed to build their fantasy franchises in any way they see fit.  Their trade partners at the top talk about the inherent value of keeping a particular player the following season and the advantage it provides a team next year to own such a guy.  Wouldn’t you agree that a team has a distinct advantage to walking into 2012 with Adrian Gonzalez rather than hoping their $12 bid lands them Justin Smoak?  If so, then what value do you assign to that in a trade this season?

On the other side of the coin, you’ve got those that are vehemently against the dump trade.  In a lot of cases, they are some of the top teams in the standings that would rather not part with their studs and are attempting to block their competition from pulling off such a deal.   Understandably, they are protecting their place in the standings.  But you also have other owners who, regardless of standings, talk about the integrity of the league and how it is no longer about knowledge and savvy GM-ship, but about who can pull off the most egregious dump trade at the deadline.

There’s also a third group that lurks in here.  There are those that are not in favor of the dump trade, but feel that they are forced into it based on the trade market established by the league.  If the league vote vetoes the dump trades, then this owner has nothing to worry about.  But if your league passes them through, then this owner is left with the decision between: Do I make my own dump trade to keep up with the Joneses or do I maintain my ethics and integrity and risk finishing in 7th place?  More often than not, the former is the road most often taken.

Every side has it’s merits and every side has it’s flaws, but the bottom line is that it’s up to the league to ultimately decide.  That is why there is a league vote and not some autonomous commissioner ruling.  Sure, you can go that route, but usually the commissioner has a vested interest in the league and shouldn’t be allowed to make such unilateral decisions without some sort of checks and balances.  You could go to a third party site, but who are these people voting and how do they know what’s really fair or not fair in your particular league?  How do they know if your league favors starting pitching which ultimately increases the value of a player like Clayton Kershaw?  They don’t.  Not to mention the fact that most people voting on these sites go by names rather than actual research and numbers.

The responsibility is in the hands of the owners and whether you are for or against this common keeper league practice/dilemma, you have to trust the process no matter how flawed it may be.  Lobbying for votes to sway it towards your opinions is wrong.  You have to let everyone make their own decisions.  Owners at the top will usually vote no, owners at the bottom will usually vote yes, and the decision is ultimately made by those that are paying close enough attention to vote objectively based on the merits of the trade.  If the player being dumped for four non-keepers is truly worth it, then the trade should go through.  If not, then it’s back to the drawing board and time to re-work the deal.  When the league speaks, stop arguing and actually listen.