Worst Trade Ever – And What To Do About It

For fantasy junkies like me – and probably you – deep keeper and dynasty leagues are the zenith of modern civilization. I’m not here to extol their virtues. It suffices to say that they scratch a certain itch – the one you had as a kid when you were daydreaming about running your own major league club.

These deep formats also have something in common. No matter what, somebody is eventually going to make a horrific-looking trade. However, the way a trade looks on paper can be deceptive. Yesterday, the Cardinals traded a lot for Paul Goldschmidt. Some (ahem, me) might say they dealt too much. They also unmistakably improved their 2019 roster in a way that only minimally weakens their future chances at winning. It’s important to consider how a deal affects competition.

Another consideration is that apparently lopsided trades still work out in the “losing” owner’s favor pretty frequently. I’m going to make up some numbers now. Based on all the trades I’ve seen that are widely panned as unfair but also aren’t clearly unconscionable, I estimate somewhere between 35 to 40 percent of them ultimately favor the loser. From my perspective, the crowds aren’t very wise. So, even though your rival probably gotten more in a sketchy looking swap, it doesn’t mean they’re totally screwed. This is akin to winning a hand of Texas Hold ‘Em after being behind on the flop. It happens all the time.

So, the lede is thoroughly buried. Now why are we here again? To talk about unconscionable trades and the immediate steps a good commissioner should take. While the design of a league should encourage trading – negotiations are half the fun! – too many terrible trades can be ruinous.

This is one of the first questions I received during my chat on Tuesday:

To me, this hugs the line between exceptionally bad and unfathomable. In other words, we’re in unconscionable-adjacent territory. Prospects like Dylan Cease gain value in deep formats, but so do young superstars like Alex Bregman. If the Bregman owner received Maikel Franco, Cease, another Cease, and a third Cease, it would still look like a bad trade.

In leagues I run, I address terrible trades in two ways. It’s important to note that the following is intended for highly competitive leagues. More casual formats should be met with more casual rules.

Take Backsies

I make all trades revocable for 24 hours. You may revoke a trade for any reason such as an ill-timed injury or a much better, late offer. An important caveat – if you revoke a trade, you may not deal those players for a period of 14 days. During the season, this serves as a strong disincentive to any shenanigans.

In an offseason scenario like the above Bregman trade, it’s not such a big deal to realize you could have gotten twice as much and back out the trade. Of course, cancelling a trade is poor form. In fact, it’s codified as such in the draft constitution for the Dynasty To Be Named Later (DTBNL).

24 Hour Revocability” any party to a trade may back out for any reason within 24 hours. This is done by contacting the commissioner. The owner(s) who back out may not trade the players involved for a period of 14 days from the original trade. For example, if I trade Max Muncy for Kevin Kiermaier and change my mind, I cannot trade Max Muncy for two weeks. This penalty is waived in the event of major injury. “Major injury” to be defined on a case-by-case basis at the commissioner’s discretion. Note: It is poor form to back out of a trade.

I tend to trust myself to make fair decisions as the commissioner. For a more neutral version of this rule, simply drop the clauses about injury.

Just… Leave

The second way I deal with unconscionable trades is more… draconian. Here are two more trade-related items from the aforementioned DTBNL Constitution:

  • Vetoes are at the Commissioner’s discretion. There is no voting process. Generally, trades will be allowed unless they are grossly unconscionable. A vetoed trade is likely to be accompanied by the removal of the offending owner. This is a highly unlikely scenario.
  • The Commissioner reserves the right to demand a rationalization for any trade. The rationalization may be published to the league.

Two things are happening here related to unconscionable trades. If an owner makes a deal that is so terrible it simply can’t be allowed, then I see no reason to retain that owner. However, I will give them a chance to explain their side of things. Perhaps I’ll upgrade my opinion. Notably, I have never vetoed a trade.

When To Veto

One example of a trade I would have vetoed comes to mind. The “losing” owner of this deal quit our 20 team, keep 28 dynasty about a month after making this swap. The commissioner then tried to undo the trade, but it was already too late. The time to act is immediately or not at all.

Ironically (or not), this trade involves Bregman, Franco, and Cease. It’s also an example of a terrible looking trade aging well for the losing owner. I mean, he still screwed up badly, but at least those prospects improved as a group.



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51 Comments on "Worst Trade Ever – And What To Do About It"

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thestatbook
Member
thestatbook

In my league, we had an owner last year who made trade decisions that vastly affected the entire season. He would trade for players and demand we give up player X in said trade, and then he’d immediately drop player X.

For example, he traded Kershaw and Shin-Soo Choo for Benintendi, Tanaka, and Gsellman, and then he just dropped Benintendi.

His rationale was simple, yet controversial: our league has a free agent auction. With limited dollars to spend, dropping Benintendi back into the pool caused a feeding frenzy, and he knew that he could take that element of one owners game away by getting them to buy Benintendi. (Of the $300 auction dollars available, Benintendi went for over $200.)

In a trade he did with me, he demanded that I include Adam Jones. Now, I don’t usually care about players like Jones, but my OF depth was thin and Jones was better than any one on the waiver wire. This kid knew this and demanded I include him in the trade. I obliged. Minutes after the trade went through, I notice he dropped Jones. Someone else picked him up. I could have kept Jones and done the trade without him if that were the case. This is a bad faith trade, in my opinion. He had no intention of using the player he acquired, just simply wanted to make sure he was off my team.

How do you handle guys who just do things to troll the league? We have a hard time finding active players, and this guy is active. Do you ban him? Are you allowed to reverse trades? What do you do?

RonnieDobbs
Member
RonnieDobbs

Your league sounds like it has problems. A league is only as good as its owners.

Jon
Member
Jon

I have no problem at all with that. Strategically dropping a player and thus making him eligible to be picked up as a free agent can be just that – strategic.

If you think he’s doing it simply to cause havoc in the league, that’s one thing – the commission should give him one warning and then kick him out. But it sounds like there are legitimate reasons for him dropping these players.

p00gs
Member
p00gs

lol I would never cut this guy and honestly would love to have him in my league. The idea of a “troll manager” sounds awesome to me, honestly. And he even has logical reasons for doing these whacky things…its like a bond villain almost. I always felt that if you pay your buy in you can do whatever you want, period. Theres no reason his tactics should effect anyone more than anyone else, and as long everyone knows about it and acts accordingly, I dont see any harm.

We’re not real GM’s. Its like…its own thing

GeneralKnarf
Member
GeneralKnarf

If you thought the trade was good for you, even with your sending him Jones; then the trade offer without Jones was really in your favor.

AlexTheGreat
Member
AlexTheGreat

That Jones move is legit though, if you’re a competitor and he doesn’t need Jones at all, taking him away from you is a big win for him. Kind of a dick move but it’s a competitive one.

caponehollywood
Member
caponehollywood

It also gives the player an advantage in waiver $s. That’s a pretty ingenious strategy honestly.

ajb3313
Member
ajb3313

I’m not sure I’ve ever read a more confusing fantasy baseball scenario/strategy.

So what you’re telling me is, this guy values how much FAAB other teams in the league have over actual talent?

Unless I’m misunderstanding, he’s acquiring Benintendi at a certain price (let’s say $5) and then cutting him so that, in theory, a team will spend $30 on him, thus taking that FAAB off the table. Is that correct? How is that even a remotely logical tactic? You’re cutting good players at below market prices in order to get an edge in… FAAB?

What you’re describing is just bizarre and this guy sounds like he’s a huge detriment to a league.

thestatbook
Member
thestatbook

It’s not a good strategy and it didn’t pay any dividends for him. But it’s incredibly frustrating.

Edit: our league is pretty active, so good players who are on the waiver wire tend to get pretty gnarly prices (someone dropped Eugenio Suarez last year and I had to put almost 45 on him to land him). So there is some effectiveness in drawing an owner out of his FAAB money. I won several matches because the owner couldn’t afford to add pitching at the cost I was paying for it. So his strategy isn’t horrible in theory. But dropping Benintendi for that purpose is rather stupid.

We’re a pretty laid back group and we do fantasy baseball for a very minimal cost (which just started in our 6th year of being a league), so kicking guys out isn’t optimal, especially guys we know.

I’ll definitely look into some of these rule options and see how we can implement them without interfering too much into how owners run their teams.

wubbie075
Member
wubbie075

statbook, I’m confused. You keep saying the guy’s strategy is not effective, just annoying, but then later explained how you were able to take advantage of times the other owners in your league had depleted their faab money. Seems like he has a definite goal and is executing it.

ajb3313
Member
ajb3313

Honestly, it seems easier and more productive to just dump this guy and find a new owner. I don’t really understand investing your time and energy to rewrite rules around this clown. In fact, I imagine once you do that, he’ll have some other strategy to deploy.

The game is fantasy baseball. What you described above is not fantasy baseball. He’s playing some other game he’s fabricated.

XanderFan
Member
XanderFan

We don’t have free-agent auctions. FAs, including players cut the previous week, are available to teams each week in reverse order of standings. This might be helpful to you: we do have a rule that says any player that is cut can be picked up at his dollar value at the time of his release — again, in reverse order of standings.

So if, say, a team cut Benintendi priced at $X, any team could pick him up at $X. The team that makes the cut can still pick the player up at the same price, but they’re last in line behind all the other teams for picking him up.

vinyldude
Member
Member

Probably have to change the rules here if you want to keep him in the league. You could add a ‘do not drop’ list to your league, or penalize managers for dropping players before a set amount of time. Tricky spot, though. I appreciate the guy’s craftiness.

thestatbook
Member
thestatbook

We have one. At the time, it didn’t include Benintendi.

thestatbook
Member
thestatbook

To be honest, we used the ESPN standard can’t cut list.

And we don’t like to dictate how teams can play, maybe to too large an extent. But this wasn’t so much about the guy dropping Benintendi as it is about the bad faith trades. The guy who owned Benintendi could have held onto him if he was just going to get cut.

Matt
Member
Member
Matt

Simplest answer seems to be a league rule that anyone cut after a trade (would have to define how long after) can go back to the previous team. So in these Benintendi or Jones cases, if he’s cut within, say, a week of the trade, whoever dealt him gets first dibs on taking them back.