Fantasy baseball: The art of the All-Star break deal

The All Star break is a good time to step back from the daily grind and assess your fantasy baseball team.  It’s also a good time to propose a trade in an effort to improve your team.  Here’s a list of items to take into account before making that trade proposal:

1. Assess the strengths of your team.  This will allow you to determine if there are spare parts (players) that can be dealt.  For example, if you have seven starting pitchers and are over pace for the maximum number of starts, it is time to deal a starter.

2. Assess the weaknesses of your team.  Check out the standings and see which categories need improvement.  Target those players that will help those needs.  So far we’re starting with the obvious, and I’m guessing that close to 100 percent of the owners regularly ascertain No. 1 and No. 2.  Not so obvious are:

3. Assess the strengths of your opponent’s team.  This will allow you to determine if there are spare parts (players) a fellow owner would be willing to deal.  For example, if he has seven starting pitchers and is over pace for the maximum number of starts, mention that to him.

On his team page, click on maximum and pace and copy and paste to show him in black and white where he stands and once he realizes he’ll be losing stats in September since he’s reached his max he’ll be more likely to deal a staring pitcher.

Another example, if he’s achieved a huge lead in stolen bases, point that out, and he’ll be more likely to deal the stolen base player that you covet.

4. Assess the weaknesses of his/her team.  Check out the standings and see which categories the other owner needs improvement can lead to a trade that works for both sides.  For example, if he’s way below pace in starts, point that out and offer one or two of your secondary starters.

Starters are the most replaceable commodity in baseball and you can typically replace starters that you’re trading by picking up spot starters off the waiver wire that has favorable matchups.

5. Open a dialogue with the other owner.  I almost never make a cold proposal.

Say something positive about the other team and he’s much more likely to deal.  For example, “I notice that with Syndergaard and Strasburg you have an outstanding starting rotation that has you in first place in wins and K’s.  But I also notice that you’re way over pace in starts that will make their starts meaningless when you reached the max.  How about dealing one of your starters for one of my outfielders?

6. Promote your players.  If one of your players just had a monster game point that out to the owner.   Stress his strong points.  For example, “Adam Duvall had 23 HRs and 61 RBI first half, made the All Star team and put on a great show in the HR derby.” You don’t have to point out that he had a .249 BA and a paltry .288 OBA — and that he’s trending downward.

The Yankees did this for years, promoting their minor league prospects as stars of the future which allowed them to deal them for the veterans they needed at the trade deadline.

7. Be patient.  The worst time to trade a player is when he’s in a slump or just got injured.  The real estate motto of ‘sell high, buy low’ applies here.  In fact, if you see a good player on another team is in a slump that’s the best time to make an offer.  Some owners aren’t as patient.

8. Check the schedule.  Rotowire has a nice spreadsheet of starting pitchers.  If you notice one of your starters has a start at Coors Field in a week it might be a good time to trade him.

I usually sit 95 percent of my SPs pitching at Coors, which means he’s sitting on your bench for 10 days.  You can get better value by trading him.  I’d also include TOR, BOS, and BAL as places I’d rather not have a starter pitch.

Conversely, look ahead at which position players are playing in those parks and trade for them.  If you can trade a pitcher about to toe the rubber at Coors for a player about to play at Coors, you win both ends.

9. Lastly, have fun.  Nothing better than to get some fresh faces on your team to enjoy the second half of the season.

Players to trade

1. Adam Duvall –  His BA and OBA have been spiraling downward as pitchers realize he has pop.  Duvall will not see the cookies he saw the first half.

2. David Ortiz –  Fabulous first half for Big Papi, but that doesn’t figure to last.  Can’t believe he hitting .332 with the extreme infield shifts defenses are using, and no speed to beat out infield hits.  BA will take a tumble.  Also, BOS figures to rest him periodically especially when they play in NL parks with no DH.

3. Steven Matz, Vince Velasquez, and Jerad Eikhoff.  All three have outstanding stuff with excellent K rate which you can sell to another owner.  All figure to also have an inning limitation as clubs will protect their young arms.

Players to trade for

1. Carlos Carrasco – Wicked stuff!  His overall counting numbers aren’t off the chart due to his hamstring injury but make no mistake: Carrasco is the ace your team needs.

2. Any Catcher named Wilson.  It too late to get Wilson Ramos on the cheap, but you might have a chance on Willson Contreras if the owner has a second C.  Regardless of whether you already have a C you want Contreras.  When he’s not C he’s in the OF.

Having a catcher that plays virtually every day is a plus.  Having a C in that Cub lineup is a plus. Having a C that plays in the late summer when the winds blow out in Wrigley is a plus.

3. Alex Bregman – If you act now you can probably get him for free on the waiver wire.  The guy is a star in the making. Since being called up to AAA he’s hit .389/.421/.889.  And he has SS eligibility!

He won’t play SS given that HOU has Correa but figures to play 3B and possibly some OF.  I expect him to be called up any day and he’ll be worth the wait even if it takes 7 to 10 days.


Larry Leskiw is an avid fantasy baseball enthusiast who has won first overall in ESPN Fantasy Baseball and the Joe Morgan Fantasy Baseball contest.