Trading: Degrees Of Difficulty

This is article five in a seven-part series on fantasy trading. To read the introduction, click here.

Some trades are easier to get done than others. Here we have the three categories of trades, listed from easiest to pull off to hardest to pull off.

Trading Stat Categories
If you’re in a H2H league, this won’t have much of an impact on you, and really doesn’t matter in Points leagues. But, in Roto leagues, this is a big deal.

This is the best example of general trade theory. If I have a glut of pitching and am dominating in those categories, I can trade an arm or two away to help improve my hitting. Chances are, I will only be able to pull this trade off with someone in the opposite position, so we both come out as winners (in our own minds).

Trading Different Positions
You probably think that trading away players who play different positions is one of the easiest way to get things done. But, it’s easier said then done. Not every owner understands the idea of “replacement level” (and z-scores), so completing a deal may take some convincing. Believe it or not, replacement level plays a major role when analyzing fantasy baseball. In fantasy terms, a replacement level player is defined as someone who is freely available on the waiver wire.

For example, a player who hits .280 with 15 homers is far more valuable as a catcher, compared to his value as a first baseman. Everyone knows this, but it can be hard to accept when talking trade. This is because finding a first baseman with those numbers isn’t all that hard, while finding a catcher with those numbers is.

While most people know and accept this theory, they may not be able to give up an OF who puts up better raw numbers for a catcher who puts up worse raw numbers. These trades take some convincing and explanation, but can get done.

Trading Within Positions
These trades rarely occur, and for good reason. It’s rare that I have a 3B that I hate, but you like, and I trade him to you for a 3B you hate, but I like. I’ve seen it happen a couple of times, but it’s very rare. It happens more often when trying to change your team’s Roto focus, but that comes back to the first grouping in this article.




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Zach is the creator and co-author of RotoGraphs' Roto Riteup series, and RotoGraphs' second-longest tenured writer. You can follow him on twitter.

5 Responses to “Trading: Degrees Of Difficulty”

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  1. Blaise says:

    Trading is all about selling high and buying low.

    I got David Wright in a keeper league deal when everyone was freaking out about his Ks. Gave up Cantu as part of it, when he was in the midst of his 38521 straight games with an RBI

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    • Slick says:

      I beg to differ. Conventional theory is selling high and buying low BUT everyone and their dog knows this. With the fantasy information overload provided on the internet, it pretty much makes it impossible to soley rely on this principle. The moment you notice your player may be slumping a bit and you want to get rid of him before his value plummets, you can guarantee he will be the focus of the next fantasy article that everyone reads. There is nothing wrong with taking a chance and buying high, it just depends on where you are in the standings and if you have a realistic shot at winning. Regression is easy to predict as it happens more often. But not everyone regresses and end up defying the numbers and having a great all season. Likewise some guys will not improve or turn it around. Buying low on one of these guys is just as much a risk as buying high. It’s just that the ‘experts’ have deemed buying high a risky proposition as you aren’t going to get better production, but their current production is nothing to sneeze at. I recently bough high on Josh Hamilton, I know the risks and that some regression is likely, but even if he drops off to some extent, that is still really good performance.

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  2. Dan says:

    I just completed a trade everyone might not agree with…
    (12 team Yahoo H2H 11×11 categories (full stat line) league)

    (I trade) Pablo Sandoval, Jason Bay annd Tim Hudson

    (I receive) Hanley Ramirez

    Zips projects big 2nd halfs for both Pablo and Bay and a terrrible 2nd half for Hudson. My personal projections see mediocre 2nd halfs for all 3 of them.

    Was it a fair shake though?

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    • Sean L says:

      Replacement level comes into play here, too. If you’re relying on Juan Uribe, Corey Paterson, and Jamie Moyer to replace the 3 players you gave up, you’ve significantly downgraded even though you got by far the best player in the deal. If you have players that can come close to matching the second-half production of the guys you gave up, the trade’s a coup.

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    • batpig says:

      agreed, a classic example where “replacement level” is key. getting by far the best player in the deal makes it a coup, if you are able to find adequate replacements for the guys you dealt. It will be much easier to find an OF and a SP who can come close to Bay/Hudson than finding a SS who can come close to Hanley (because they don’t exist!).

      I always love getting the best player in the deal…

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