As a international grandmaster fantasy guru (twelfth level), I tend to field lots of trade questions. And of course I'm happy to do it. I mean, what's the point of possessing a weapons-grade talent unless you're willing to share with the world? No point at all. So, again: I'm happy to help. It's part of the job. Trades are a blast.
Our purpose here today isn't to review any specific proposals, however, but rather to discuss strategy and objectives. Lots of you seem to simply trade for trading's sake — like how Omar Minaya used to do it. Instead, I'd like you to try trading for winning's sake.
Plenty of you have heard this lecture from me before, so you're free to leave. Maybe cut out early on a Friday afternoon, beat the traffic. Or maybe spend some time in a mock draft. But the rest of you — particularly that dude who just asked about a Hunter Pence-for-Adam Jones swap — need to stick around for a few hundred additional words.
Here's the most important thing I can tell you about fantasy deal-making: Trades are about addressing team needs.
That's it. That's the goal. The idea, in a nutshell, is to deal from surplus to correct weakness. Steals-for-saves, or power-for-average, or pitcher-for-shortstop. At this stage in the season, it should not be difficult to figure out where you need help. Roto owners can just scan the standings. Head-to-head owners, go to the "League" tab, then "Team Stats." Your team needs should be apparent.
In all likelihood, you're not going to correct any problems by dealing your .290-hitting power/speed outfielder for some other .290-hitting power/speed outfielder. And you probably won't be better positioned to win a championship because you swapped your high-K starting pitcher for another guy's high-K starter. When you do those things, you're merely rearranging deck chairs — possibly making slight gains, but nothing meaningful. Don't waste effort or assets on cosmetic changes. Whenever you trade, make sure you're fixing something that's in need of repair.
Sure, there are going to be situations in which you want to get anything you can for a player before his value collapses (hello, Danny Santana). And sometimes you're just fed up with someone, and possibly over-invested (go away, JJ Hardy). If you can cash out, great. But generally speaking, you need to remain focused on position and category needs.
This stuff isn't terribly complicated. If you have to take a small hit on the value side of a deal to potentially gain 4-5 points in the standings, that's worth it, right? Of course it is. Worry less about winning trades in terms of player value; worry more about winning your league title in September.