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Trades in a Vacuum

One of the most popular questions I get on Twitter is something along the lines of “Was just offered player X for player Y. Should I take it?” And I always do my best to answer, but the reality is analyzing a trade without a ton of context is really tough.

Where are you in the standings? Are you building for this year or next? Who else is on your roster? Are there other offers out there? Without answers to these questions, and quite a few others, any answer I give requires an asterisk: warning – trade advice woefully short of information. But, like I said, I still try to answer, so I thought I would provide some color on how I analyze ottoneu trades when presented without context.

1) If you aren’t getting the best player or the best value, you are probably doing it wrong. In any deal you make, you are trying to do at least one of two things – you are building for now or you are building for the future. If it’s the former, you probably wan’t to make sure the best player in the deal is coming to you; if the latter, you want the best value. If you are getting neither, you probably don’t want the deal.

2) If a guy is injured, do not trade for him with the expectation that he will be back as scheduled or at full strength. In one of my leagues, someone recently traded for Ryan Madson, when other closer options were on the table. Yes, Madson is on a rehab assignment, but who knows how that will go, if he will suffer a set-back, etc. And I am not even getting into a question of whether or not he will be a closer when he finally does return. If you are trading for a player on the DL or even a player who is banged up and hasn’t played in a few days, assume things are worse than the reports suggest. Considering Jason Heyward? Don’t expect him before June. Thinking about Andrew Bailey? Factor in a DL stint. If they come back on time, all the better – you get a bonus. But if you EXPECT them to return quickly and they don’t, you have probably lost the deal already.

3)When in doubt, get the younger and cheaper players.ottoneu is a game of value as much as it is a game of production, and any time you can get younger and cheaper, you are likely making a good move. Obviously the production and talent have to figure into this, but almost any team can benefit from getting younger and cheaper. That said, do not mistake youth and low price for value. An established player at a good price with a track record of success can still be young enough and can still qualify as a great value. I was asked about a deal the other day involving Adam Jones and Dexter Fowler, and the first thing I noticed when comparing the players was their birth dates: 8/1/85 and 3/22/86. Jones established himself a couple years back, has a solid track record and seems like a veteran. Fowler seems like a guy with the promise to someday become Adam Jones (and maybe today is that some day, based on his start). But despite this disparity in perception, Jones is less than eight months older than Fowler. Trading the “older” player here to get “younger” is a waste.

Finally a couple tips if you are ask me (or any other fantasy writer) to review a trade you are considering: First, let us know your intention – trying to add power? Selling an abundance of speed? Building for next year? All of this matters. Second, let us know how this will impact your lineup (if you can). Trading Miguel Cabrera for Ryan Braun could be a great deal if you have David Wright on your bench and your fifth outfielder is barely rosterable. But if either guy would be your Util, and you are just swapping one for the other, a lot of other factors come into play.