Fantasy Baseball trade season is now: Why you should be making a deal

What does the middle of June mean to you?

In my world, speaking in fantasy baseball terms, it’s the meat of trading season. Now is the time to work the phones, send some texts, craft some emails.

Here’s why this general target date works for me:

The stat categories have some shape

Winning a fantasy baseball roto league is all about grabbing the right numbers and manipulating the categories. Now that we’re about 43 percent of the way through the season, it’s time for a deep audit of how you sit in the 10 standard roto columns. Where are you isolated? Where can you get the most bang for your buck?

And just don’t audit your own situation — look at the other teams, especially those who have shown trading inclination in the past. What do they need? Where are they deep, where are they shallow? Where are the clusters? Sometimes trades almost make themselves, when two teams can move from a position of strength and land a win-win deal.

The season is deep enough for us to be smart with data

Look, I get it; on some level, we’re always chasing a butterfly in this fantasy gig. Just when you think things are floating one way, it dips, bobs, weaves, shoots off. But by the middle of June, we can at least make educated guesses on what the player pool looks like, who we can trust, and who we can’t. You’re not flying nearly as blind as you were in April.

DENVER, CO - JUNE 14: Trevor Story #27 of the Colorado Rockies hits an RBI single in the third inning against the San Diego Padres at Coors Field on June 14, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
It might be time to take the temperature of the Trevor Story manager in your fantasy league. (Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

Late Summer (Read: Football) hasn’t taken over yet

Let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room — fantasy football dominates the fake-sports landscape. And eventually, a lot of the baseball managers in your league are going to shift to football focus, and that could limit your trading pool. It’s also possible many of your rivals will be heading off to July or August vacations; let’s try to get deals done while people are on the grid.

Rivals could be itchy to deal

Anyone can write off a poor April start as a small-sample fluke, but when does a bad start (or for that matter, a good start) have significance to it? The name-player your opponent wouldn’t panic on back in April? Maybe that stance has changed. We’re also at a point in the year where some trade-happy managers will think about a trade simply as a makeover; they’re sick of looking at the same underperforming roster. Fantasy trading is a form of retail therapy, and there’s often a spike around this time of year.

Keeper League trading could go haywire at any time

Let me say this another way: If you’re going for it, get to the rebuilders early.

I’ll admit keeper and dynasty formats aren’t my preferred format, because trading often has too much impact on who wins the league. But it is what it is, and one of my favorite long-running fantasy leagues (it dates back to 1991; love you, 01824) is a keeper format. That particular league has incentives that encourage all teams to compete every year, or pay a penalty if they tank; many keeper formats don’t address that.

But either way, in the keeper-league world, you need to be networked, connected, and engaged with the other teams, especially those who aren’t playing for this year.

Take the temperature of the non-contenders in your league. Even if you’re not working on hard negotiations, at least get a sense of what their immediate and long-term goals are. Ask them questions about their roster. Commiserate if it’s appropriate. The 2021 fantasy season has been riddled with injuries, and I’m sure most of the laggers in your league have at least a partial injury excuse.

The worst keeper-league feeling is seeing a rival make a lucrative dump deal when you never made a pitch or even knew the moved players were on the market. Fantasy baseball is still a game about relationships. Keep lines of communication open.

It’s a meandering subject and I could make this an Iliad, but at some point you post and you send. Share your trading ideas in the comments. Audit like a champion today.