by Howard Bender
So I'm back from a week away and I'm tan, rested, and ready to get back to some serious baseball. This week's topic hits pretty close to home, but unfortunately, it's really skewed for those that are in keeper leagues. Not that there's anything wrong with starting each year from scratch, but there are certain elements to a keeper league that make a re-draft league look like a breeze. Like today's topic: The Dump Trade. It can be one of the toughest to analyze and usually causes some of the biggest league uproar from year to year.
For those that aren't sure of what I'm talking about, let me give a quick example. Team A is in 3rd place of 15 team keeper league and is looking to strengthen his roster and make a move to first place. He then contacts Team B who is in 14th place and ask what he could fetch in return for, say, Hanley Ramirez so that Team B can own him going into next year. Now Team B really doesn't care what he has to give up, so long that it's not one of his keepers and therefore offers up five strong players for Team A's stud shortstop. Is it fair? Is Hanley worth that kind of a bounty? The combined production level Team A is receiving easily surpasses what Ramirez will likely produce this season, but on the other hand, Team B now has the number one fantasy player going into next year. And thus the debate begins.
With two of my leagues being 15 team keeper leagues, I have found myself on both ends of the deal. As an expansion team in one league, I languished at the bottom of the standings and made moves for the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Chase Utley and B.J. Upton. In the other, at various times I've dealt names like Manny Ramirez, Ryan Howard, and Vladimir Guerrero. With league voting, I have tried to keep my deals on the fair side, but obviously everyone has their differing opinions on a player's value and everyone has their opinions on the dump trade.
Where do I sit? I'm against them. Plain and simple. The biggest question that is involved in making a deal like this is determining the always intangible "keeper value". What is the added price you pay to own a top stud the following season? I'm all for getting full value for a player, and by giving up a stud in a keeper league, you're certainly entitled to a little more than usual. But where do you draw the line? 3 for 1? 4 for 1? 5 for 1? Determing that "keeper value" is one of the most highly contested debates I've seen and league turmoil is a natural reaction. The guys Team A is in competition with are certainly not going to be happy when he receives 5 players that could skyrocket his team to first place.
And that's where my main problem with dump trades lie. If Team A's deal passes via league vote, then there's no question that Teams C and D, who were also at the top of the standings, are going to attempt the same type of deal to make sure they stay ahead of their rivals. Suddenly the top 5 teams are sending their studs to the bottom 5 teams and winning the league is no longer about who has the superior skill and knowledge; it's about who can pull off the biggest dump trade. As a lover of fantasy baseball and the work it takes to be successful at it, it hurts to see a league take that turn.
Now I'm not going to lie and say I've never pulled off a dump deal. A few years back, I made one and received immense criticism primarily because I spoke out so vehemently against them to start. I was in first place for most of the season and watched two of the teams right behind me pull off two of the more egregious deals I've seen in fantasy baseball. I chided the league for automatically "yessing" the deals through and not really analyzing them for fairness, but my issue wasn't so much that as much as it was that the teams involved on the "receiving" end, knew exactly what they were doing and didn't care how lopsided the deal turned out to be.
I had two choices. I could try and make smaller deals to tweak my roster and stay ahead of my competition, or I could simply follow suit and pull off a dump trade of my own. After working the trade lines for a while, I was unsuccessful as everyone I spoke to only had interest in my stud keepers and wanted to offer me a heap of non-protects in return. I tried trading with my competition as well, and none of them would have it as each of them was seeking their own special little dump deal. My choice became clear. I could finish up in 6th place and maintain my ethics or I could stay in first and become part of the problem rather than the solution. Somewhat regretfully, I went with the latter.
I say somewhat, because let's face facts...I wasn't going to lose out on the top prize because I was playing by ethical rules that no one else was following. Herd mentality? Yes. Good for the league? No. Did I win though? Yes I did. And yes, there was a part of me that wasn't happy about how it all went down. But I had to keep myself protected.
Since then, the league has taken quite a turn. The next two years that went by, there were dump trades all over the place. This year's bottom feeders became next year's contenders and the dump trades started getting worse. But then the tide turned. People that were contenders started voting against the dump trades and suddenly there were a rash of vetoed trades. Everything tightened up, and today, it's become ridiculously tough to get any type of deal through. The smaller tweak deals make it through, but it's become near impossible to get a 4 for 1 for even the studliest of studs. My other keeper league seems to be about two years behind and looks like it should follow suit soon.
So where do you stand on the issue? I'd definitely like to hear some added opinions on the topic. We've opened it up for discussion on RotoBuzz.com and would love some feedback. I'd like to hear what you have to say on the topic and if you have a league story to share, by all means.
Good luck and I'll see you all in the money this year!!
Howard Bender is a freelance fantasy sports writer and champion in both rotisserie and head to head leagues. For questions, thoughts, or comments, you can email him at Howard.Rotobuzz@yahoo.com.