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Some Thoughts On Trade Etiquette


As I've often mentioned in my weekly waiver wire columns, the middle portion of the season is the toughest time to find free help. Combined with a sense of urgency as trade deadlines loom and time begins to run out on the season, that means owners are generally more amenable to exploring swaps to address their needs.

Anyone who has ever played in a fantasy baseball league knows that not all trade partners are created equal. Owners who make reasonable offers and are willing to negotiate in good faith are worth their weight in gold. More commonly, you will run into people who put seemingly no real effort into their proposals, and are unwilling to entertain alternatives.

With most leagues a month or so away from trade deadlines, here are some thoughts on the etiquette involved.

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Proposals

First and foremost, to be a good trade partner, you should consider the other owner's needs as well as your own. If you can't proffer a legitimate argument for why, in their position, you would accept the offer you're about to make, don't send it. Take a few minutes to look over their roster and their place in the standings, and identify assets you can provide to them that will actually be useful. It's always obvious when someone hasn't done this, and it's always annoying. Don't be that guy.

On a similar note, avoid lowballing or otherwise insulting intelligence. There is a school of thought that it is perfectly acceptable to open with a weak offer, because by doing so you anchor the value of what you'll ultimately give up. How often have you actually seen this work, though? Speaking for myself, it's immensely preferable when I receive an offer that doesn't presume idiocy on my part. You don't have to put your absoluteĀ bestĀ offer forward immediately, but starting from a reasonable place makes me much more inclined to enter into a discussion with you.

Finally, for the love of all that is holy, do not spam. Sending one offer is fine, maybe even two if you have multiple frameworks that make sense. Obliterating a rival's inbox, however, is as likely as not to lead to them completely ignoring you, particularly if the offers are of substandard quality - and if you're sending them often enough that it's obnoxious, they almost certainly fit that bill.

 

Negotiation

When you receive an offer, the least you can do is to respond promptly. We're all glued to the internet these days, and between apps and email, it's almost certain that you saw the offer within hours (if not minutes) of its genesis. You should be getting back to the owner who proposed the deal within 24 - 48 hours. Even if you need more time to mull the deal over, a simple text or email acknowledging that you received it and will have a decision shortly is only courteous. This will hopefully curtail the spamming issue to boot, so everyone wins.

If the offer you've gotten isn't to your satisfaction, make it clear what you want. Maybe you don't want to trade at all! That's fine, and just stating unequivocally that you are happy with your roster is sufficient. If you are interested in a swap, communicate both what you are willing to give up and what you're angling for in return. It isn't always immediately obvious to an outsider what your plans may be, particularly in keeper or dynasty formats where future years factor heavily into the proceedings. Explaining what your goals for a deal are will go a long way toward minimizing frustration in the negotiating process. For all but the most insulting offers, when rejecting an overture you should provide a brief explanation of your reasoning. You might be pleasantly surprised by a more suitable proposal if you do.

As often as not, there simply is no way to arrive at an arrangement that both sides find equitable. Again, there's nothing inherently wrong with this. Reasonable people can hold differing opinions, even in our currently dystopian hellscape. Don't prolong talks; once it becomes clear that your valuations just don't jibe with the other party's, thank them for their time and move on. There are other owners in the league - you're both better off starting fresh with one of them.

Practicing these principles will not only lead to more fruitful negotiations for your current deal, but make other owners more likely to work with you in the future. Good luck, and happy wheeling and dealing.

 

The Friday Meta is Kyle Bishop's attempt to go beyond the fantasy box score or simple strategic pointers and get at the philosophical and/or behavioral side of the game. It is hopefully not as absurd, pretentious, or absurdly pretentious as that sounds.

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