Trading 101 & Trading Etiquette


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Best Approaches to Successful Wheeling & Dealing

August might be the best month of year for making a trade. Sure, one must always sell off their excess protectables after the season, but when? October? December? It is in the last month of the summer before the trading deadline that those 14th and 15th men are more critical to a pennant chasers. Hence, you could pick up better young studs or higher picks for those players in August than October. If you are in a race, you should be considering your depth. Your vets could lose their jobs to September call-ups. Anyone could get hurt and there would be no more deals you could make to patch that hole.


1. Look for the teams that could spare a player at the position you need.


2. Target those spare players you like the best.


3. Figure out what you have of plausibly equal value that they could use and that you could spare.


Etiquette rule A: Do your homework. Don`t offer a player of a particular position the other manager is already strong at. Don`t offer Ivan Rodriguez, if he has Jorge Posada. Nobody will be interested in benching a guy like Posada or anyone as good as the guy you are offering. Unless you have a convincing argument that his player should be benched and your player is significantly better, you are just wasting the other manager`s time and yours.


4.a. If you don`t have a fit, you could call or e-mail the owner of a particular player you are interested in, anyway. Just lay out your situation honestly. Perhaps, they were about to trade someone whom you have a suitable replacement for. Perhaps, there is someone on your team they are interested in that you could spare, whom you didn`t suspect they would be interested in.


4.b. Try find how much interest the other manager has in your players before you mention the player you are most interested in. If you are a manager with a lot of Scoresheet success, anyone you name will go up in value.


Etiquette rule B: The initiator should be the first to name names. Yes, anyone in who negotiates professionally (such as my wife) knows it is generally better to get the other party to bid a price first. You could try, but you could be very annoying by trying too hard, if you are the trade initiator. That is another time waster. The exception to this rule comes if the initiator has had a great deal of difficulty making a trade with this team seemingly because anyone they name suddenly becomes untouchable.


4.c. One style of trading is to offer an open bid. State which player is for sale. Send his name to all potentially interested managers. Declare that you will trade your player to the highest bidder. Insist that you will accept only the highest bids from each manager. You will not come back for a throw-in. You will weigh the bids as is, and take the best one. This bidding style is a common negotiating tactic, which usually yields the most reasonable results, however some managers don`t like to work this way as a bidder.

4.d. Some managers (not I) think it is best to make the cheapest offer you think you can get away with first, leaving ample room for throw-ins. Some will make a lopsided offer just to get the other manager to comeback with the first realistic offer. You could try this under some circumstances, but it usually backfires. For one - and this is a big negative - you could get the reputation as someone who doesn`t give his best offer first. Secondly - and this is what will likely happen - the other manager will just think you are too unrealistic and give up negotiating with you. Or he (or she) might give up thinking you are too demanding. Some managers just can`t be bothered with haggling. Hence, I recommend going straight to where you think you will end up and stubbornly refuse any throw-ins declaring, I didn`t want to waste your time. I already just gave you my best offer. I don`t see any reason to add anyone else.


Etiquette rule C: Do not waste a lot of time tinkering for throw-ins and advantages. Try to get to something realistic right away. Again, if you are the initiator, you especially shouldn`t try to weasel the extra throw-in.


It probably sounds to you like there is an advantage in not initiating a trade. I guess that`s so. Unfortunately, taking such a passive stance isn`t much fun. Plus, you will miss out on deals that could really help you.


4.e. If you don`t have a fit with one team, look to see if a three-way deal could be the solution. Look for a team that has a weakness where you have excess, and see if they have an extra player that the team that has the player you want could use. Do you follow?


During my first year as a perpetual league manager, I engineered a four-way trade. With each step, I picked up someone slightly more valuable, so I ended up with someone obviously better than who I originally traded. Everyone else got someone close in value to the player they gave up.


Etiquette rule D: If you are a veteran Scoresheet manager with a few recent tittles, don`t take advantage of weaker managers. Go ahead and make a trade with them, but make it fair and something that will actually help them - even from your point-of-view. If they need to rebuild, don`t send them fading veterans such as Jeff Cirillo or Jeff Conine.


Etiquette rule E: As one reader put it: Be honest. Don`t trade an injured player without disclosing it to the other side. Also, don`t misrepresent a player`s assets. Certainly, never lie about his stats - although, as well as know, there are lies, damn lies, and statistics.

E-mail or phone? I generally prefer to state my case for a trade by e-mail. It is quicker and I guess I`m more visual than verbal. It also allows the other manager to regard my offer at his own convenience. Unfortunately, this often takes too long. So, if you are in a rush to make a deal or get someone`s response, you have to phone.


Etiquette rule F.1.: RSVP ASAP. If you don`t have time to give the offer full consideration in the next 25 hours, let them know. Check your e-mails every day.


Etiquette Rule F.2.: If you take a vacation away from your internet access, let everyone in your league know. If you don`t have internet access (you probably aren`t reading this), you should, at least, let your phone message at work announce when you will be back from vacation.


I happen to prefer getting offers by e-mail, too, but some managers do not.


Etiquette Rule G: Don`t be offended by another manager`s style. They probably aren`t trying to offend you and didn`t mean to waste your time. They might have thought you enjoy haggling. If you can diplomatically tell them your objections, that is helpful asset.


5. It is a very good idea to confirm any deal and even the negotiations. There was one manager who used to be in AL Robinson who drove me nuts. Two years in a row I forgot what happened to us the year before. I would come back to accept what I thought was a firm offer, but he would always back out saying, he was only considering it.


Etiquette Rule H: Keep your word. If you make an offer, stick to it.


6. At the risk of sounding too lawyerly, put an expiry date on your offer.


Etiquette Rule I: Don`t make a trade suggestion that isn`t a genuine offer without clearly stating it as such. It`s happened to me a few times. Some managers shrug it off. I find it very annoying to spend the time weighing its merits and giving an answer only to find the manager didn`t want to do it, anyway.


Rule I: Of course, do not forget to report your trade on time. This is not a matter of etiquette. This is an absolute requirement.


John Carter