Kicking Rocks: Trade Talk

One of the most exciting aspects of fantasy baseball is trading.  It can also be the most frustrating as well.  We’ve already talked about those stupid early season offers where people are constantly testing your knowledge and your patience — something like his David Freese and Livan Hernandez for my Jose Bautista was a personal favorite.  But now we’re two months in, things have settled in for the most part, your waiver wire has been picked clean, and now everyone is trying to improve their squad via the trade.  Getting the right deal done is tough enough, but the process to get there can be a tenuous path riddled with both ignorance and annoyance.  Today we’re going to go through some do’s and don’ts which may help expedite the process with little fanfare or, at the least, keep you from wanting to choke the life out of a moronic competitor.

I understand that to some people, the initial offer is just a springboard to the negotiation process.  However, if your first offer is so far off, you’re going to turn off any and all potential trade partners.  Have the sense to offer something worthy of a negotiation.  If you’re going fishing, what do you think is going to lure in the giant tuna – a scraggly earthwork you dug up in your backyard or some tasty live bait like a juicy squid or mackerel?  A bad trading reputation spreads quicker than a good one and if you’re always known for offering up your garbage for their best player, no one will ever want to deal with you.  When you offer up crap, you’re going to get a crap-filled response.

Don’t make an offer you are not willing to have accepted immediately.  There’s nothing worse than someone sending you an offer and then watching them pull it back when you agree.  If you don’t intend on actually making the deal, then put a disclaimer in the offer that says “Not set in stone, but what do you think of…?”  You look like a fool or a potential swindler by pulling back an accepted deal.

During negotiations, don’t try to run down the guy you are asking me to trade to you in an attempt to get me to lower my asking price.  If you can give me all of these reasons as to why I should just get rid of this guy, then why are you trading for him?  Are you really doing me a favor by taking him off my hands?

Never offer up a hurt guy.  If he’s on the disabled list and was just just back into a walking boot for three weeks, don’t tell me that he’s going to be great down the road and try to get full value for him in a deal.  And if he just got hurt and word hasn’t spread yet as to the extent of the injury, don’t try to deal him to me thinking that I haven’t done my homework.  And if I haven’t had a chance yet to do my homework and you swindle me on a guy who just went down with a back injury, you’ll never trade with me again.  Like I said, a bad reputation spreads a lot quicker…

When making an offer, actually look at the other team’s needs.  Make the offer enticing.  Make it look like I’m actually getting something out of this and that I’m not just helping you out by doing the deal.  If I’m in first place in stolen bases in our roto league and my lead is fairly solid, then why offer me your Michael Bourn for my Jay Bruce?  Have the good sense to find a trade partner that has a surplus of what you need while you have the same for him.  It makes it so much more enjoyable for the listener.

Never tell another owner how to run their team.  You can say something like, “Hey, it looks like you need saves, so I have some guys that may help you,” but there’s no need to tell someone what they should or shouldn’t be doing with their squad.  Unless they solicit advice, mind your own business.  It’s like telling someone how to raise their kids or how to train their dog.  Everyone follows their own path and who’s to say yours is the right way?

If someone makes you an offer, have the decency to respond whether you like the deal or not.  If you have no interest in the deal, then just say so.  A simple email will suffice.  You may have to turn them down two or three times, but they should get it rather quickly and end up leaving you alone.

Conversely, if someone doesn’t respond to an offer that you’ve sent three times, then walk away and look for a new trading partner.  They obviously have no interest or they are a dead team.  You can ask your commissioner if they are active, but sending them a barrage of emails in an attempt to illicit a response is a waste of your time and energy.  If you call a girl and leave her a message and she never calls you back, do you leave five more messages and sound like a desperate, potential stalker or do you move on to another girl?

If you make a deal, honor it.  Everyone has a certain amount of buyer’s remorse when they make a big trade, but you don’t come back the next day and try to cancel it because you’ve slept on it and made yourself crazy.  And if the deal is up for a league vote, you don’t go running to league members and lobby for them to vote it down.  In fact, any sort of trade lobbying should be a no-no.

Wow, I could go on for a while longer here, but the word count of this post is getting up there and I’d rather hear from you and some of your experiences.  Got some trade talk that’s been getting under your skin?  Got a snake oil salesman in your league?  Let’s hear it…




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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site, RotobuzzGuy.com, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com

41 Responses to “Kicking Rocks: Trade Talk”

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  1. dan says:

    I got Miggy for Luke Scott, c santana and john banks. Saw a frustrated owner on the league chat and made the deal. Look for frustration among your teams and offer up quantity on your team for quality on theirs.

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    • Clark says:

      Wow, nice trade for you. Hard to imagine why a “frustrated” owner would want Santana and Danks though, both of whom have struggled mightily this season.

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    • batpig says:

      WTF would there be to be frustrated about w Miggy??

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  2. Clark says:

    Sometimes you just never know what to expect when you propose a trade. I throw a lot of proposals out there, just to see if it goes anywhere. This one guy in my league almost never responds to my offers. My proposal will typically just sit there for 48 hrs until it expires w/o any response from him. Nevertheless, recently when I decided to try to cash Berkman in, I made a pass at his Miggy Cabrera (since my primary 1B has been Adam Dunn). I offered my Berkman, Adam Jones, and Pineda for his Miggy Cabrera and Dan Hudson. Not even 5 minutes later, he accepted it and completely shocked me.

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    • Howard Bender says:

      Nice sell high on Berkman and Pineda. I’m not a Berkman fan but I love Pineda. Unfortunately, he’ll probably get shut down later on in the year to save his arm when the M’s are out of contention. Grabbing Miggy and Hudson like that was big for you. Congrats.

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      • Clark says:

        Thanks. That was exactly my thought on Pineda too. I dont see the M’s letting him throw more than 160-165 innings.

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  3. Rojo says:

    Wow – timely article considering I was just put through trade hell in my keeper league. I was offered A-Rod and a 2012 4th round pick for Howie Kendrick, Michael Bourn and my 2012 1st round pick. I accepted. It got approved, but not before 2 other owners voted to disapprove not because it was collusion, but rather because the trade “wasn’t balanced enough”. I ended up flaming them on the message board and telling them that’s not what a trade vote is for: that voting is to prevent collusion – not for judging what trades they think are good or bad. They didn’t seem to grasp the difference. I wanted to throw my laptop across the room. Grrr!

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    • Howard Bender says:

      One of the biggest problems with trade voting. While you just do it to prevent collusion, numerous owners use their veto for their own gain or opinions. They’ll either vote a deal down because it might affect their place in the standings or they do it because, yes, suddenly they’re the smartest fantasy players in the game and they know when a trade is too imbalanced. It gets even worse in a keeper league because few people understand that a player gains extra value by being a legitimate keeper. If you’re competing for this year and another owner is building for the following season, then why not, within reason, shouldn’t they “overpay” a little in order to obtain a stud player’s services for next year and years to come…?

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      • db says:

        Couldn’t agree more. I had a trade a month ago that was shot down as being unbalanced. It may have been, but there was no collusion and the other guy clearly thought it benefitted him as he offered it to me.

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      • steven schwartz says:

        Howard, its steve from your fantasy league. What are your thoughts on a league using a trade analyzer which are now available to prevent trades from being vetoed. In one of my leagues all trades go through. If 75% of the league vetoes it, it goes intoa trade analyzer. As long as the trade is not sided 10 pts in either direction, the trade goes through. It is just frustrating when teams playing for next year (keepers) can not improve their roster because other owners have their own agenda instead of the integrity of the league

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      • Parker says:

        My league has changed to do what steven has suggested. I traded a bunch of guys for draft picks, and the commish vetoed the deal because he said the deal wasnt fair. So we changed our rules and in our league you can protest a trade, but yahoo will decide if the trade should be vetoed.

        I just traded Reyes for Kendrick two weeks ago-obviously Reyes is better, but to keep Reyes I would have to use my first round pick while Kendrick would be my 13th rd pick. Kendrick is great value in the 13th round and sets me up for a better team next year. This should be common in keeper leagues.

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      • Howard Bender says:

        I like the idea of using a trade analyzer or a site like TradeBashers.com. The only thing that I would need to see is the total number of votes on each trade. There should be a minimum cast. Wouldn’t make much sense to send the trade out and only get a 6 person response…

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  4. prankmunky says:

    Funny that you posted this today because I just sent out my first trade offer of the year. After Colby Lewis’ seemingly impressive start yesterday, I’m offering him and Denard Span for Daniel Hudson and Rajai Davis. Lewis’ velocity was still down and he has a low BABIP (.249) which makes his ERA and WHIP look quite decent. Hudosn of course is the exact opposite with a .338 BABIP and higher ERA and WHIP. I just hope my trade partner doesn’t frequent Fangraphs!

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  5. Friedman says:

    I love trading…I think it makes the game much more fun.

    Granted this was with a guy who wasn’t as experienced as I but its a money league (weekly rosters) and competitive:

    Trade 1: Adrian and Kuroda for Youk and Verlander
    Trade 2: Lowrie (while hot) for Konerko
    Trade 3: Konerko and Chacin for Adrian

    Net: Kuroda, Lowrie, Chacin for Youk and Verlander

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    • Friedman says:

      I think buyer’s remorse is huge when a player gets hot right after someone trades him to you. Often a good bet to try to trade the player back and get a much bigger upgrade.

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  6. Andrew says:

    I am struggling with vetoes in my league. We have a 10 team 22 player keeper league so there is alot that goes into finding a good trade in the short term and long term. I have had one deal repealed and multiple other trades that have had vetoes cast against them. Many guys in the league view the veto as a way to stop other teams from getting too good a deal instead of stopping cheating or collusion. It all stems from a deal before there was a veto rule from before I was in the league when a guy got Pujols basically for free. Any thought on what the proper use of a veto should be and how I can convince these guys to not be so fast on the veto trigger?

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    • Friedman says:

      League constitution is really the only official way to do it. Its also hard to change the rules in the middle of the year.

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    • Howard Bender says:

      I agree with Friedman. You can’t change the rules in the middle of the season. I just commented above abou tthe trade vetoes. The problem is, you’ll always have people voted based on self-interest. While the goal is to stop collusion, people use the veto for their own personal gain.

      I was in a keeper league where we had a problem with it. Trades kept getting voted down and there was widespread frustration throughout the league. It became impossible to get a deal through unless it was a straight up swap. The league tightened up for a couple of seasons, but as those who were the veto culprits got more frustrated by their own deals getting vetoed, things started to loosen up again.

      You can have a league rule about people using their veto only if they suspect collusion or if the deal is grossly imbalanced, but everyone has a different opinion on players’ values and rarely is a group of 10 or 15 ever in full agreement.

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      • Aaron says:

        You can also use a tool like tradebashers.com to get a community of managers to vote on a trade. That way the folks voting aren’t the ones involved in the league in which the trade is taking place.

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      • B N says:

        Yah, the typical trade veto voting process is entirely broken. Since you don’t need too many guys to veto, just a couple can pretty much break all trading in a league.

        I mean, just intrinsically it’s a silly concept if you think about it from a purely rational standpoint. Trades are intended to improve teams. A good trade improves both teams involved in it. If you’re not one of those two teams, doesn’t that imply that it’s in your best interest (for that single move) to veto any good trade?

        Sure, some people can think ahead and realize that blocking everyone else’s trades will lead to their trades getting blocked, but now you’re basically trying to dig yourselves out of a prisoner’s dilemma. This is part of the reason I’ve gotten a bit jaded on many public leagues- it’s just too easy for a couple of idiots to ruin it for everybody.

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    • B N says:

      Honestly, that’s an unenviable position. Having been there before, I’ve seen three possible responses:

      1. Trade Lobbying. I know he said it’s a no-no. But sometimes you literally have no-no choice. You can put it out in the league message board and explain how the trade breaks down, how everybody benefits, and challenge people to explain why it is veto-worthy.

      2, Wisdom of the masses trade tweaking. In some cases, you can even solicit input from people on how it could be made “more balanced” since that’s usually what people hide behind (though I have heard people flat-out state that they will veto a trade that could hurt their standings, also). If people legitimately care about balance, sometimes a small tweak can even out a trade.

      3. Appeasement. Re-propose the trade, but with one or both parties dropping a useful player. This will make a purely self-interested team think twice about vetoing, especially if they have a high waiver claim. If you’re desperate for a trade and need it quick, this can be the quickest way to placate the trolls.

      4. Call them out. If your league allows anonymous vetos, you can poll everyone and find out who is vetoing. If they’re a strong minority and clearly just being a jerk, you can basically pull a grim-trigger strategy: “Allow this trade or I will veto every trade you try to make for the rest of the year.” It’s not nice, but sometimes fire deserves fire. Of course, if the league is largely in agreement- you either need to re-evaluate your trade or find a different league…

      5. Let it slide. Sometimes it’s just not worth fighting over. Needless to say, lobbying or threats don’t exactly win lots of friends- they’re harsh measures for an already bad situation. I wouldn’t ever take either approach in a friendly league, for instance.

      6. Quit the league. Or threaten to do so. Everybody hates a zombie team. Mainly, you play fantasy sports for fun. I think it’s fine to say to a league: “I feel that this league is anti-competitive and just not fun because of all the vetos. Unless there’s some way to make this better, I’m seriously considering leaving this league.” I’ve never done this myself, partly because I’m absurdly stubborn- but I’ve definitely reduced my investment in a league if people were onerous.

      *7. Dump ALL your cuttable players, flame everyone on the message board, THEN quit. No, seriously, don’t do this. But I did once see a guy in a public league do this. He tried to do about 3 trades in a week, had them all vetoed, tried the trade tweaking approach, worked out a trade that most of the league was fine with, and it was STILL vetoed (Yahoo has a pretty low threshold for the # of vetos required to block a trade). He kind of flipped. It was a pretty ugly scene. We had to contact Yahoo to put his players back on his team to prevent it from disbalancing the whole league. So… don’t do this.

      So, those are the options I’m aware of. Maybe other people have seen other tactics, but those are all the ones I’ve seen pulled out.

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  7. RMR says:

    My biggest peeve is when a guy tries to trade me a guy he just picked up from the FA pool. It’s one thing to offer me a guy from waivers or who just got named closer who I may have had interest in but wa beat to the punch. But if a guy was has been sitting in FA and nothing significant has happened to him in the 24 hours, you can safely assume I don’t want him — if I did, I would have picked him up myself.

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    • Howard Bender says:

      And how about the guys who offer you players in a trade, you reject the deal and they end up dropping the guy they just offered?

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      • Scott says:

        I don’t understand why people get mad about that. If you have a guy on your roster who may have value to someone else, even if you don’t want him anymore, of course you should try to trade him before you drop him.

        If you can get something better by trading him rather than picking up a free agent, why shouldn’t you?

        I did this with Alex Gordon earlier this year. I rode his hot April, then tried to trade him to a guy starting Pedro Alvarez at 3B. Guy said he didn’t want Gordon, so I dropped him. Then guy picked him up 2 weeks later after finally benching Alvarez.

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      • Howard Bender says:

        Usually because the guy they are offering is off to a hot start and has little hope of sustaining the production while the owner is selling him as the next big thing and asking for far too much in return.

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      • Scott says:

        But not everyone who gets dropped has little hope of sustaining production. Sometimes a player just doesn’t fit on someone’s roster. Plenty of worthwhile players get dropped, for a variety of reasons.

        Again, if you don’t run a guy’s name around to see if there’s any interest before you drop him, you’re doing it wrong, and probably not winning.

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      • B N says:

        Isn’t that what people are supposed to do? I mean, that’s what major league teams do. Often I’ll try to see if somebody has their own bottom rung guy they’re willing to exchange for my guy who’s about to get cut.

        Typically these trades involve some 1 for 1 with some combination of: a slumping slugger, an upside SP that has sucked for months, or a utility bench player. It’s hard to find the right match, but sometimes these things make a lot of sense. I’ve definitely wished that somebody put a guy up on the trade block before they dropped him and made me waste a high waiver claim on the guy.

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  8. V says:

    My money league is one of those ‘owners not responding to trade offers’ leagues. Or they’ll hit decline with no response.

    I offered a guy who is bottom of the pack in pitching and saves (Berkman+Hanson+Perez) for Adrian Gonzalez and another slight upgrade and he just immediately hit decline, with no discussion or haggling. Ok, well, enjoy 8th place, dude ;-)

    The one trade that I’ve successfully made (the only trade in the league other than when I dealt Beachy for Belt early on (ouch)) was a ‘strengths for weaknesses’ deal; I was 1st in HRs/Rs/RBIs and 3rd in SVs but needed pitching, and traded with a guy in 3rd in Ws/Ks/ERA/WHIP but in dire need of offense; J.Upton+Britton+Madson for Price+Hamels. One of those deals that will likely work out for both of us.

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  9. Mank says:

    i was just offered what seems like a pretty awesome trade, keeper league, i would trade kershaw, carlos santana, and sergio santos and would receive jose reyes, longoria, and yadier molina… sounds pretty good but that would leave me with jose reyes, hanley ramirez, beltre, and longoria and only one Util spot… can’t be benching one of those guys everyday. would love to flip one, but without a deal already worked out i’m having trouble accepting it immediately.

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    • Howard Bender says:

      You don’t have a corner infield or middle infield spot where you can use all four? If not, then I’m sure there will be plenty of interest in any one of those guys from now through the trade deadline…

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  10. troy says:

    I offered C. Patterson and D. Lowe for B. League and B. Belt. In Return he counted B. League for R. Braun. Is that even an offer?

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  11. Nate says:

    12 team mixed h2h points: I have Bay, S.Smith and Morse on my bench (Starting 1B G.Sanchez, OF Braun, Berkman, J.Upton). My starting P is Kershaw, Hanson, D.Hudson, then I rotate in Norris, Baker, Carmona, Narveson.

    Think I need to move a bat to upgrade my P? I am in the top 3 in offense (and that is with R.Zimm out and Rolen filling in).

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    • Nate says:

      Oh yeah, I traded K-Rod and Wolf for Cain a bit ago, so I have Cain too.

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    • Howard Bender says:

      I would try to move Berkman for a quality arm if you can get one. Maybe package him and one of your rotating guys and see what you come up with…

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  12. SF 55 for life says:

    I’ve been extremely active on the trade market in my league. So far I have made the following trades:
    Jorge De La Rosa and David Freese for Mat Garza
    Michael Bourn and Gio Gonzalez for Mat Latos
    Jed Lowrie, Nick Markakis, and J.J Putz for Michael Young and Alex Rios
    Alex Rios and Kevin Gregg for John Danks
    Max Scherzer for Kyle Farnsworth

    The only trade I regret making is the trade for Farnsworth, though my pitching is deep and I needed a closer.

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  13. Steve Braucksieker says:

    I just made what I consider to be an interesting trade. First off, I am in First place by a healthy margain, 101 to 84 and this is the closest it has been in a long time. Here is the trade. I moved Lance Berkman, Brandon Morrow, and Carlos Santata for Hanley Ramirez and Chase Utley. Whatta ya think?

    P.S. Currently I have Aaron hill and Elvis Andrus at those positions, and Yadier Molina is my catcher.

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    • Howard Bender says:

      I think the trade comes out way in your favor provided both Hanley and Utley return to form for atleast the second half. Good sell high on Berkman.

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  14. B N says:

    “Never tell another owner how to run their team. You can say something like, “Hey, it looks like you need saves, so I have some guys that may help you,” but there’s no need to tell someone what they should or shouldn’t be doing with their squad.”

    While I don’t like the example phrasing, I strongly disagree with this statement. When it’s used to try to doll up a bad trade, it’s a stupid thing to say. But if you are offering a trade with 4 or more players, I think it’s fine to state what you expect the net category exchange to be. E.g. “I’m expecting that this trade is probably giving up about 10-15 HR on my side and about 20 RBI, and I’m expecting to gain about 20 SV over the balance of the year. From the standings, it looks like some extra HR and RBI would grab you quite a few extra points, but you’re already well ahead of the field in SV.”

    This sort of exchange has three benefits.
    - First, it gives the other person an idea of what you expect out of the players involved in the trade. If you think Gregg is going to get 20 SV for the rest of the season, but they think he’ll get 30- they can reply that they think he’ll get more SV than that and you need to offer more.
    - Second, it directs attention to the benefits of the trade. If I’m busy, I’m perfectly fine with someone mentioning that I could snag 3 roto points with a 0.01 increase in WHIP- maybe I haven’t had a chance to check the detailed standings in a while. I’d still double-check their math, but I’m fine with someone stating why they offered the trade to me.
    - Third, it shows that the other team has actually analyzed YOUR needs in making a trade offer and that they think there is a match. Many trade offers don’t bother to do this, so they’re a waste of time. If they come to the table knowing some of your needs, that means their trade offers should be closer to the mark. If they see I’m putting Whiteside in my catcher slot, I’m happy to hear them note: “Looks like you could use some catching help- I have Mauer coming off the DL, let’s see what we can work out.”

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    • B N says:

      Correction. I misread the statement. You’re correct that you shouldn’t be TELLING someone what to do with their team. That’s true.

      But I still think this vastly undersells the importance of highlighting the cost/benefit profile of a trade for both parties.

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