Tout Table: Lowball Trade Offers

This week’s question: How do you handle lowball trade offers? What do you do when a trade you consider is lopsided is announced?

Lenny Melnick (LennyMelnickFantasySports, @LennyMelnick): Ask the owner offering the stupid deal “how does this help me”? If Both teams cannot say how the deal hepls them get to playoffs or Money…Void the deal if owner cant say how it helps !!

Howard Bender (Fantasy Alarm, @RotobuzzGuy): The worse a lowball offer is, the more disgusting my counter-offer becomes. As for a lopsided trade being announced, I usually just keep my mouth shut. There ws one exception though where I reached out to the commissioner because the person in third and trying to climb made an extremely egregious trade with a disconnected owner who hadn’t made a move almost the whole year. I simply asked, “What’s up?” and the commish told me that’s just the way it is. Nothing else to do about it. You certainly don’t want to be the guy who lobbies the league for a veto.

Seth Trachtman (Rotoworld, @sethroto): I try not to take lowball offers personally. I’ll usually just promptly turn down the offer, and if the owner continues to make lowball offers, I’ll explain to the other owner why I’m turning the offers down. I have a hard time coming up with a situation where a fantasy trade offer is worth burning bridges. There’s not much you can do for lopsided trades, unless there’s collusion involved. I’d contact the commissioner in that case, but lopsided trades are just one of the realities of playing in a league that allows trades. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Jeff Zimmerman (Fangraphs, The Process, @jeffwzimmerman): Reject and move on. One owner will almost every weekend send a trade offer on a couple replacement level players. They are the players he plans on releasing when FAAB runs. As for lopsided trades, I don’t care one bit. It anything about it is too fishy, either they or myself needs to leave the league.

Michael Florio (NFL Network, @MichaelFFlorio): I may disagree with others on this, but I simply reject the offer and keep it moving. I do not think you owe it to anyone to have to make a counter-offer. If you are interested in making a deal great, but just because they want too, doesn’t mean you have too. When a trade I consider lopsided occurs, there really is not much I think that can be done. I do not believe in vetos, because most owners think selfishly and take advantage of the veto for their best interest. But unless you can prove collusion, I just think you got to leave it be. But take note of the owner involved, because you should be making that guy some offers in the future.

Scott Swanay (FantasyBaseballSherpa, @fantasy_sherpa): I used to do the passive-aggressive thing where I would respond either by countering with a more one-sided trade in my favor or the question “Why would I want to do that?” Now I’ll either respond with a quick “no thanks” or, if I see the seeds for something more mutually beneficial, a bona fide counteroffer. I try to keep the mindset that most people aren’t looking to take advantage of other owners; they just value the players involved differently than I do.

Rudy Gamble (Razzball, @RudyGamble): Most managers in your league suck as trade partners. I am sure most are good people but they either overvalue their players or want $1.20 on the dollar to feel totally confident in making a trade. So when the lowball offers come, I either politely decline or make a reasonable counter-offer that will generally be declined. Since I only play in industry leagues or no trade leagues, I do not have to worry about lowball trades. But at least 5 times a year I tell Grey to get out of his NL-only dynasty league because the trading in that league is shady as f**k (which is my nickname for a big oak tree).

Phil Hertz (BaseballHQ, @prhz50): I try to make the most of lowball offers, by treating them as opening salvos. Once I know what they’re interested in, I try to see if I can turn the offer around to my advantage by finding some gems on his offer.

Glenn Colton (Fantasy Alarm, @GlennColton1): Lowball trade offers depend on the source. If received from a league-mate known to be difficult, I just ignore them. However, if received from a straight shooter (e.g., Doug Dennis and Chris Liss always make fair offers in Tout and LABR), then you simply counter and try to get a fair deal done. As to the announcement of a lopsided trade, I often do two things: 1) write to the owner and say “hey, next time canvass the league, you might have gotten more” and 2) review team’s needs around the league to see if I am missing opportunities to get a good deal

Ron Shandler (, @RonShandler): I see two issues here: 1) What one person considers a lowball may be a fair offer from someone else. We all value players differently, sometimes VERY differently, so I always try to keep that in mind. 2) We may consider ourselves the most intelligent baseball fans and most astute evaluators of talent, but orchestrating trades is a completely different skill, and some of us are just lousy at it. Salesmanship requires an understanding of human behavior that is often foreign to pure analytical types. So if I receive what I consider a lowball offer, I try to understand who is placing the offer, and even if I perceive it as a “he’s in a rush and just threw something out,” I’ll respond with something to redirect it (after cursing under my breath for 10 minutes), without being condescending. Sometimes that gets things back on track, sometimes it doesn’t. But nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Mike Gianella (Baseball Prospectus, @MikeGianella): I usually ignore them. As Ron points out beauty (or ugliness in this case, I guess) is in the eye of the beholder, but if I think an offer is awful right out of the gate I will politely decline. My counteroffer will probably be seen as unreasonable, since the person who made the initial offer and I won’t be close on what constitutes “value”. After a lopsided trade is announced, I make a mental note about what appealed to the person who got ripped off and try to capitalize on their perception of value in the future.

Ray Flowers (Fantasy Guru Elite, @BaseballGuys): I think any offer should be considered a starting point for a discussion. I have sent out a “bad” first offer with a note saying something like ‘I’m interested in X and wondering what you would be looking for in exchange’ in order to let the other owner know I’m interested their player, but not intending the first offer to be accepted. Most of the time, I just get a no response, leading me to think that folks don’t actually read my comments they just see the offer and discount it, so be careful how you send your offers to others. It has also been my experience that when there is a disagreement, people just view the players differently. Some folks understand that and try to work around it, some folks get pissed off at it and think you to be a moron. I would also say, that if someone is willing to deal, I will always listen. You never know who they believe in or who they don’t. If you stop listening, you might be closing the door on a potential deal that you would benefit from in the end.

Jason Collette (Rotowire, @jasoncollette): I just try to keep the dialogue going most of the time. Honestly depends on my schedule. I don’t do trade reviews from my phone (too many lessons learned/burned) so I wait to get to my laptop to look into things.

Patrick Davitt (BaseballHQ, @patrickdavitt): I usually briefly explain why the deal is not a fit for me, and I leave player value out of that. I’ll take a $9 player for a $15 player if it helps me in the categories. Like others here, if I see a potential legit trade, I’ll offer it, but my experience has been that guys who throw lowballs aren’t typically interested in legit deals. They want to “win” trades.

Dr. Roto (Scout Fantasy, @DrRoto): Honestly, it gets me really angry when i get a lowball offer. I want to type back, “I’m Dr. Roto, why would I EVER do that ridiculous deal?!” Then I cool off and write back calmly, “Thanks for the offer, but it doesn’t work for me. Maybe we can deal again soon. Never burn a bridge with a trading partner if you don’t have to.

D.J. Short (Rotoworld, @djshort): It would be easy to respond back expressing anger that such an offer would be proposed, but I usually just reject and don’t give an explanation. It’s usually not worth it. As others have said, perhaps dealing with that particular owner will come in handy down the road, so there’s no need for creating bad blood. But I do take a mental note from that experience as far as player valuation. In regard to seeing lopsided trades being announced, it’s sometimes hard to grade in a vacuum since owners have different category needs and motivations. Most of the leagues I play in are very competitive and there’s no room for funny business, so I try not to be too judgy about it at this point.

Scott Wilderman (OnRoto): I’ve played with a guy who always starts with an insulting lowball offer — but I know it’s business, not personal. If I’m at all interested in any of the players proposed, I’ll counter with a deal equally lopsided in my favor — it’s important that ‘fair and reasonable’ be mid-way between the two starting points, or you can get sucked into subconsciously thinking the other guy moved more than you did during the bargaining.

Zach Steinhorn (CreativeSports, @zachsteinhorn): I get annoyed by lowball trade offers, especially when the owner doesn’t include a message explaining why the trade could make sense for both of us. If there isn’t an accompanying note, I’ll usually just reject the offer without countering and would be hesitant to spend any more time dealing with that owner in the future. If there is a message, it shows that there was actually some thought put into the offer and if I’m interested in any of his/her players, I’ll see if we can work something out. Lopsided trades bother me as well but I rarely publicly question them, especially in industry leagues where I have a lot of respect for the knowledge of my peers and trust that there was no collusion.

AJ Mass (ESPN, @AJMass): If you’re going to allow trading in your league, you have to allow trading. So, when one manager makes a deal where it appears he’s gotten fleeced by another, so be it. As long as it’s not a case of clear collusion, who’s to say it won’t be the “fleeced guy” laughing at the end of the season. As for getting a lowball offer — “You have Mike Trout. I have Jeff Erickson’s autograph. Let’s deal.” — just respond “No thanks” and move on. So long as it doesn’t become a daily nuisance — “What if I throw in a Todd Zola selfie?” — then you just let it go.

Andy Behrens (Yahoo! Fantasy Sports, @andybehrens): If an offer made to me isn’t a reasonable conversation starter, I’ll reject without counter or comment. I’m not going to any effort in a trade conversation if the other party won’t put anything interesting on the table. As for lopsided deals in my leagues, I really only care about deals that seem obviously collusive. I’m fine with the idea that deals are going to have perceived winners and losers. Sometimes a fantasy manager actually has to take a small loss on a trade in order to address an area of need. As long as both parties in a deal are acting in good faith, I won’t complain.

Al Melchior (The Athletic, @almelchiorbb): If I get a lowball offer, I usually decline without comment. I may look at the roster to see if there is a reasonable counteroffer I can make that would fill a need for me. As for lopsided deals in my leagues, I rarely do more than take note of it and file it away for future reference.

Mike Podhorzer (Fangraphs, @MikePodhorzer): I reject the offer without comment, but realize that I have now learned which player(s) this owner is looking to trade for. At the very least, I will then look at his team to see if I should make a counter offer involving the player(s) originally asked for. When a lopsided trade is announced, it’s frustrating. There’s nothing that can be done, but at least you’ve spotted the sucker! So I become a little more aggressive trying to trade with that owner, hoping I will be the next beneficiary of his poor player evaluation skills.

Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis): I find lowball trades insulting. I typically leave the comment of “I could not hit the reject trade button fast enough” on the trade request. I then maycounter with my own lowball trade offer, just to emphasize my point. I love trade negotiations, but don’t waste my time with trades that do nothing to benefit both teams.

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): Note to Ron – I’m sitting right here. Jokes aside, I’m up front concerning my trouble with negotiating. It’s irrational, but saying “yes” to someone normally requires saying “no” to several and that’s tough for me. In general, I think there’s a fine line between considering an offer insulting and taking it personally. It’s fine to consider an offer insulting, that’s just the way some operate. The key is not taking it personally. You’re not the only one getting offers of that nature. Everyone in the league is. If you were the only one, it would be personal. Some just believe in a lowball opening salvo, then negotiating an equitable deal. In this instance, I may pursue talks if I sense something can be worked out. Some start low because they think they are supposed to and others aren’t confident enough to start with something on a more even keel. In these cases, I try to figure out who it is they want from me (it’s usually apparent) and counter with something more reasonable.