Tout Table: That was a mistake

It’s time to roll out of the hot-button topics. Here is this week’s question.

What do you perceive as the primary mistake made during trade negotiations?

Matt Williams (The Game Day, @MattWi77iams): Failing to construct a trade with the needs of your trade partner in mind is the biggest mistake made in negotiations. Just because you have a spare player does not mean that they will benefit the other team. People make trades to benefit their own team, so it is always important to build a trade backwards. Be sure to identify how you can benefit the other team first, then there is no reason to “convince” them. Meaning, offer a trade that will benefit the other team, do not “tell” them why it works. If your trade strategy seems shady or unbalanced/unfair no one will want to trade with you.

Jason Collette (Rotowire, @jasoncollette): That the other side cares about my opinion about what their team needs. I should explain why I am looking to acquire a player but I should explain what I’m offering based off why I am moving that player and not why I believe the other party needs that player. Let the other party connect the dots or recognize the value of the player. In the business world, we call that selling futures, not features.

Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ, @dougdennis41): Do your best to make it a win-win and I will do the same. That’s it. That’s all. Not every negotiation will end in a deal, but it is tough to make a trade with someone knowledgeable and just get what you want without giving up “something” you’d rather keep.

Anthony Perri (Fantistics, @Anthony_Perri): Trying to fleece the other owner. The old “2 mediocre players for the star player” is the traditional “I’m going to take advantage of you offer”. Don’t do it. Not only will a seasoned competitor be insulted, if you end up finding an inexperienced manager that takes it, but the others in your league will also be very weary of you going forward.

Chris Clegg (Pitcher List, @RotoClegg): There are several mistakes I see people make when trading. The first is when people send blind offers trying to acquire your best player for two fringe-average players. That makes me not want to trade with you in the future when someone does that often. The other flaw I see is when someone tried to convince the trade partner why you should trade a player. Telling your opponent their player isn’t good, but you want them makes zero sense. And people don’t need to be told how to play the game.

Scott Swanay (FantasyBaseballSherpa, @fantasy_sherpa): (1) Getting too hung up on “winning” the trade and (2) failing to see things from the other owner’s point of view. It’s cliche to say that both parties should be striving for a win-win outcome, but if either side feels buyer’s remorse immediately after the deal, that will make it much more difficult to work with that owner again on future trades.

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): Not showing one is willing to do their share of the work. “Looking for a shortstop. Make me an offer.” “Looking to move hitting for pitching. Make me on offer.” NO! I WILL NOT make you an offer. Tell me you’re willing to talk and I’ll get in touch.

Tristan H. Cockcroft (ESPN, @SultanofStat): Two things most often kill a trade before it even starts in my local leagues: 1) Failing to even look at the trade counterpart’s roster, to see whether the trade even makes sense for that team. A trade is supposed to improve both teams! 2) Immediately dismissing consolidation (3-for-1, 2-for-1) trades, from the perspective of the team taking on the extra bodies. I get it, so many of us assume the consolidating team is either ignoring the effects of those replacements on our rosters, or is trying to “steal” the best player in the deal, and our instinct is a “no“ snap judgment (and sometimes that’s the right reaction!). But sometimes these offers give trade talks a start — pick one of the names and see where you can take talks — and, sometimes, taking on extra bodies does make sense. And the latter of these two missteps has certainly been on the rise lately, at least from what I’ve seen.

Ryan Hallam (Fighting Chance Fantasy, @FightingChance): First and foremost to me is not taking into account what the other team might need. Sure, you might have strength at a certain position but maybe the team you are trying to trade with is already good at that position too. The second part that always bothers me I call the “used car salesman pitch” as someone tells you why the players they trading away are great and why the players they are trying to get from you suck. Why are you so interested in them then? Always turns me off in trade negotiations in the present and the future with that person.

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): Oh, I have more. Beginning negotiations by telling me certain players are off limits, then asking for my best player. Yeah, right.

Anthony Aniano (Rotoballer, @AAnianoFantasy): Trying to “win” the trade. You should be making a trade to try and improve your team, not have everyone on social media say that you “won” the trade. The only winning that matters is winning the league.

Mike Podhorzer (Fangraphs, @MikePodhorzer): Entering negotiations from your own team’s perspective, as opposed to how your offer improves your competitor’s team. Rather than “I need more power, so I’m interested in Pete Alonso”, offer your player(s) that plug a position hole or improve a weak category. It now becomes “Looks like you could use more steals as you can gain an easy 4 points in the category. I could offer you Esteury Ruiz…”

Brian Entrekin (Fantasy Pros, BaseballHQ, @bdentrek): The idea that you have to win the trade and more so really win the trade. A trade should benefit both sides depending on team needs. When negotiations begin, you can tell if this will be a fair trade or not, and when it is not, it makes future trades that much harder.

Sara Sanchez (, @BCB_Sara): Trades have to be mutually beneficial and as a lot of people have said above the biggest mistake is trying to “win” the trade rather than offer a mutually beneficial deal that will lead to other mutually beneficial deals. I think another big problem is trading from a point of desperation rather than strength. There is only so much that one or two guys can do for you, trading for a closer when you are dead last in saves and can only get 1-4 points for an elite closer isn’t as useful as trading to potentially go from 10th to 3rd in a category you may already have more strength in.

Scott Engel (The Game Day, @ScottETheKing): Focusing too heavily or exclusively on your own needs. Consider what would move the needle to get the deal done if you were on the other side of it.

Frank Ammirante (The GameDayHQ, @FAmmiranteTFJ): Targeting players who have gotten off to slow starts but have long track records, such as Nolan Arenado. Your leaguemate is unlikely to trade the player to you at a discount, so it’s almost a waste of time to even make an attempt.

Joe Sheehan (Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, @joe_sheehan): Trading with Fred Zinkie.

Joe Sheehan (Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, @joe_sheehan): Kidding! Seriously, for me, it’s not wanting to end up on the wrong side of the trade that leads every podcast for two weeks. We play these leagues in a fishbowl, and sometimes a Fish Bowl, and it’s hard to not be risk-averse.

Fred Zinkie (Yahoo/Rotowire, @FredZinkieMLB): My ears were burning!!! I think that the biggest mistake during trade negotiations is being easily offended. Sure, sometimes the other owner is trying to pull the wool over your eyes. Just laugh if off. But often the offensive offers come from an extreme difference of opinions. When you find an offer insulting, try to figure out which player(s) are causing the insult, and remove them from the trade talks. You might still find a deal.

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): And another thing… In traditional keeper leagues, those with a rapid turnover of the player pool as opposed to traditional dynasty leagues with limited player pool turnover, either go for it, or gear up for next season. Playing both sides of the fence means you did neither very well. You’re probably not going to win this season, and other teams have a superior keeper foundation for next year.

Bret Sayre (Baseball Prospectus, @BretSayreBP): Lots of good stuff in here already, but I think the biggest mistake people in trade negotiations is not reaching out personally either via email or text to start the conversation. If you try to start the conversation with an initial offer, it’s going to end the conversation more often than not. Share what you’re thinking and see what they’re thinking.

Shelly Verougstraete (NBC Sports EDGE Baseball, @ShellyV_643): I’ll echo what everyone has said so far. Don’t try to “win” every trade. Take a look at the opposing managers roster and standings before sending an offer. Sometimes there isn’t a fit.

Matt Trussell (Razzball, @MattTruss): Sending a very lopsided trade “just to get the conversation started” is a quick way to get the negotiation stopped before it even starts. I try to always make my initial offer something both sides need. Also, look over the other person’s roster and even the standings to see what they need before sending a trade. If I’m leading the league in Saves…I probably don’t need another closer.

Howard Bender (Fantasy Alarm, @RotoBuzzGuy): Nothing drives me crazier than when someone offers you a deal that doesn’t help you in the least bit. Everyone is so hellbent on “winning” the trade that they don’t take the time to look at your roster and study what you need. If you aren’t offering the opposition something of value where you are both happy with the trade, then what are you doing? I know some people believe an offer is just the first step of a negotiation and some people just make a ton of offers hoping someone will make a mistake and accept, but that never gets a deal done, especially with me. If you aren’t offering something of legitimate value AND need to your opponent, then you’re probably the reason a deal won’t get done.

Jeff Zimmerman (Fangraphs, @jeffwzimmerman): While everyone else is right, the absolute worst outcome for a trade is that once a trade agreed upon by both sides, one party reaches out to everyone else in the league that they are wanting to trade player X and can anyone beat the deal. Some of my fellow Touts do this all the time and just refuse to waste my time working out trades with them for this very reason. Show a little respect to your fellow league mates. If you want everyone to know player X is available, state it before wasting someone else’s time.

Vlad Sedler (FTN Fantasy, @rotogut): Making an offer only from the perspective of your team and your needs. Enticing offers playing to trade partners’ weaknesses improve chances the trade goes through and your wasting less of everyone’s time.

James Anderson (Rotowire, @RealJRAnderson): Viewing a trade as an opportunity to try to rip someone off, rather than an opportunity for both sides to get what they want. In every home league, there is at least one manager whose standard operating procedure is open negotiations with a lopsided offer, and I don’t respond to those proposals out of principle.

Erik Halterman (Rotowire, @erik_halterman): I think the hardest part can be figuring out how much of a salesman to be, especially when dealing with trade partners you’re unfamiliar with. Your trade partner will rightly be suspicious of any attempt to sell the deal that’s too forceful. (If you really like this guy so much, why are you dealing him?) But at the same time, as the person proposing the trade, you’re by definition more into the idea initially than your potential partner is, so you’re going to have to do at least a bit of convincing in most cases.

Kev Mahserejian (Fox Sports, @RotoSurgeon): I am all for low-balling but there is such thing as *too* low. Atrocious offers lead to atrocious counters where both parties end up seeing the other as unserious. Also, you’re not going to pull a fast one on a trade partner in 2023 when every injury and demotion is a Google/Twitter search away.

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): I promise, this is the last one from me, but since it just happened, this doubles as being therapeutic. A lot of trade discussions are facilitated via trust and respect between the team managers. One of the fastest ways to get on my grumpy side is offer me a player in a deal, and after I respectfully decline, you drop him for a free agent nowhere near the quality of the player you proposed in the deal. Please don’t misinterpret; trying to deal someone you will drop is smart but be fair in your return request.

Scott Chu (Pitcher List, @ifthechufits): Trying to trade players at positions that are very deep in your league. For example, with many standard leagues moving to 3 starting OF, that position suddenly becomes really hard to trade from. The replacement level is very high, and most teams probably feel really good about their outfield. It will be extremely difficult to get what you might feel is fair value simply because most managers can easily talk themselves out of acquiring an OF. On the same sort of line, in deeper formats it’s often really pricey to acquire starting pitching because no one ever “safe” with respect to their rotation. No one will want to give up a starter, and if they do entertain it, you need to be ready to pay full freight. In these situations, you may need to accept that the market values and actual/projected values aren’t the same.

Greg Jewett (The Athletic, @gjewett9): I am sure this gets discussed, but our site’s discord constantly features who wins this trade, without team context, where a team can move up in the standings, and solely focused on the vacuum of the deal on winning it. This does not win many leagues. With so many games left this season, address a need if one exists, make offers which help your roster, but do not include a note on why it helps the other team. Or simply reach out and see if your potential trade partner would be willing to negotiate and make a trade which benefits both sides. Flags fly forever in fantasy leagues, but no one cares if you “win” a trade in May.

Mike Sheets (ESPN, @MikeASheets): I often get the sense that the person who offers me a trade doesn’t even look at my roster aside from the player they want to acquire. They know who they want, and they know which player or two they want to trade, and it stops there. If they want to trade a first baseman, yet my corner and UT spots are already filled with first basemen, they still make offer because it helps them – not me. Before sending offers out, analyze the other person’s roster and determine something that actually makes sense for both teams.

Adam Ronis (Fantasy Alarm, @AdamRonis): One of the biggest mistakes is many don’t look at what the other team needs. When that happens, it’s insulting and immediately is a turn off. It takes work to put forth a successful trade. If I have an excess of steals and want to make a trade, I immediately look at the teams low in steals and see if there’s a fit for what I need.

Michael A. Stein (Fantasy Judgment, @FantasyJudgment): One common mistake people make when negotiating trades is over-valuing your own players. Of course, people have their own agendas in mind and elevate the hype surrounding whomever they are looking to trade away. IN order to be a good trading partner, you need to be more objective about what you are offering and look at it from the other person’s perspective. There is nothing wrong with trying to be a good salesman and inflate the value of what you are offering. But you have to assume your trading partner may disagree with you and then you will need to demonstrate some flexibility and self-awareness.

Dylan White (Baseball America, @the__arrival): I’m sure it’s been said – but the owner proposing the trade not considering the needs of the owner receiving the trade. The ideal trade is a win-win…which typically means that both teams either fill a need and/or deal from surplus.

Joe Gallina (Fantasy Alarm, @joegallina): Trade offers featuring quantity over quality. There have been many mentions about trades being offered that are one-sided and don’t take the other team’s needs into account but what can be really infuriating is getting an obviously bad trade offer, consisting of multiple players that won’t help my team.

Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis): Leading with need of the trading partner. I look at what my team needs and try to match where I have a surplus in players or stat categories and then look at matching these criteria with potential trading partners. If I receive a trade offer from an opposing manager, in the event that I decline the trade offer, I always add comments in the trade rejection area. I always first thank the person for the trade offer and then I explain why I declined the trade. I think this is important to do so that the other league manager can use this in potential future trades. Plus, they may use this information to send a counteroffer. This reduces the time wasted in trade offers that I would never have approved in the first place.