The Roto Grotto: the enemy of your enemy is a good trade partner

With the All-Star break behind us, the trade deadline looms for fantasy players. In dynasty and keeper leagues, that often shakes out as it would for real baseball teams, with teams out of the race trading off their players with short-term value for prospects and underpriced veterans. Trading is important in redraft leagues, as well, and not just as a means for exchanging a surplus to address a team deficit.

Every trade has the opportunity to strengthen two teams, and in roto scoring, each side can serve you. It is vital to consider what the gains and losses of your trade partner will mean for the teams you are chasing in the standings.

Consider a simple example. Team B is leading Team A in total roto points, but Team A is close to Team B in home runs and RBI. However, Team A is well in last place in stolen bases, so he can afford to trade his one stolen base threat, Jacoby Ellsbury.

HR RBI SB Wins Strikeouts
Team A 160 640 32 71 875
Team B 177 683 88 63 801
Team C 197 722 84 51 756
Team D 103 577 65 76 889

Team D is out of the race in both home runs and RBI and would be willing to trade Team A Chris Davis for Ellsbury plus a mid-level pitcher. With a buffer over Team B in wins and strikeouts, Team A could afford to lose a pitcher and still maintain that lead.

Now, if Team C came to Team A with an offer of Adrian Gonzalez plus the same pitcher for Ellsbury, the temptation would be to turn it down. Davis has a big lead in home runs over Gonzalez this season, 37 to 14, and both Steamer and ZiPS give Davis an edge in home runs in the second half with similar RBI totals. However, just because Davis is the better addition to Team A does not make that trade the better deal for Team A overall.

Team C is only four steals behind Team B and will have an easier time overcoming that disparity than Team A will of overcoming his in home runs and RBI, even with the addition of Davis. Meanwhile, Team D is likely too far behind in steals to affect Team B’s standing. With a goal of both strengthening his own team and weakening Team B, Team A is better off taking the slight downgrade from Davis to Gonzalez in exchange for the expected loss of stolen base roto points of Team B to Team C because of his addition of Jacoby Ellsbury.

With the correct frame of mind, trades will be much easier for you to execute because most teams will use their preferred overall rankings to determine whether a trade is a win or a loss for them. A real win is not measured by stats gained minus stats lost. It is measured by roto points gained minus points lost, and a point lost by your rival is just as valuable as one gained on your own team.

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