Over the course of my 20 plus years of playing this wonderful game we call fantasy baseball, a number of rules issues, (and competition issues in general) have come to light. The one that rears its' ugly head quite often is the dump trade.
We are competitive by nature, and we play fantasy baseball to win, either for the trash talking aspects, the respect factor, or, in some leagues for the MONEY! It is when this last item gets involved, that things can get the strangest.
Dump trades, by definition, are trades where one player foregoes being competitive this year in order to strengthen his team for next year and down the road. This only arises in keeper leagues, or what are sometimes called dynasty leagues, where players can be retained from one year to the next. In some leagues, players can be kept for 3 years, have added years extending their contracts, and even, kept into perpetuity! It can be a great benefit to tie up young superstars for years to come, and the prospect hound in all of us wants Trout or Harper on his or her roster for years to come. One way of accomplishing that goal is the Dump trade.
So you look at your team on May 8th, and through underperformance, poor drafting, injuries, or a combination of all 3, you find yourself in 8th place. You realistically can't see a way that the stinking pile of offal that you call a team can get into the race. But, you are sitting on a 42$ Justin Verlander and a $45 Miggy Cabrera. They aren't enough to get you to the promised land this year, and they are no bargain pricewise at next year's auction. So you look around your league and you see the guy with Oscar Tavares and Dylan Bundy sitting in his minors, sitting in 4th place, needing some boost to get over the top. You offer him Miggy and Justin for Tavares and Dylan Bundy. He jumps at the opportunity, and you trade 87$ in salary for 10$ in future stars. And the SCREAMING from around the league begins.
Have you upset the competitive balance of the league, or made a shrewd move? Chris, have you run across these types of trades in your leagues, and what if anything has been done?
I can't say I've ever been involved in a trade as egregiously lopsided as the one you just described, or even seen one like that. In a fantasy basketball league once, I did acquire Andre Iguodala in exchange for my first round draft pick over the next twenty seasons. Good trade on my part - the league folded a year later. But what you describe is the equivalent of attacking Fiji with the Spanish Armada. However, I have been involved with several competitive balance trades that left the league irritated with me. I've been on both ends, actually. Two seasons ago, I got bored with winning my keeper league and decided to trade until all of my ten keepers were aged 26 or younger. So I traded Joey Votto and Tim Lincecum (before he broke down) for David Price, Brett Anderson, and Alcides Escobar. Not a win for me. Last season, I found myself with surplus keepers, and so I traded Chris Sale, Eric Hosmer, Alcides Escobar, and Gerritt Cole to my dad (who was rebuilding) for Adrian Gonzalez. I haven't really come out winning that trade either.
Dump trades are risky, as my two examples show. Two seasons ago, Anderson and Escobar loked like budding stars. Last season, one figured Hosmer couldn't possibly keep playing as badly as he did in 2012, that Sale would regress, and A-Gonz would find his power stroke again. The point is, dump trades are just that - dumping players that you don't want or can't keep onto somebody else who recognizes that those guys are still an upgrade for him. It's a valid (and smart) strategy, but it almost never works out the way one plans. In a keeper league, it's also the type of thing that happens all the time that ends up improving competitive balance.
Let me pose a question to you. In one keeper league, I sit in 14th place (of 16). However, four of my players are ranked in the Top 10. The rest of my roster appears to be under-performing (wassup, David Price and Elvis Andrus) or is injured (howdy, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hill). When does one decide to execute a dump trade? Is now the time?
One trueism I believe in is, the sooner you make the moves that will improve your team, the more each side will get out of the trade. A stud is obviously worth more in May than in August, at least for the guy acquiring the studs.
We ended up having to put trade limitations in one league I play in, as the prospect hounds were basically choosing who the champions were year in and year out. Now, until June 1st, the salaries of the players traded for one another have to be within 10% of each other at the time of the trade. This has severely limited dump trades early on (and trades in general), we also instituted a salary cap. This makes the draft more important, and allows things to shake out a little before the dumping begins.
What about vetoing of trades in non-keeper leagues? How do you feel about it, and when and under what circumstances should a trade be vetoed? I am much more laissez-faire on this issue. If you think the trade helps your team, who am I to disagree?
My stance on vetoes has changed with time. I now lean towards letting everything go through unless doing so would result in abrupt cataclysmic armageddon. Trading Cabrera and Verlander for Tavaras and Bundy would be just the sort of biblical disaster that I would veto. Beyond that, meh. If an owner wants to ruin his team because he's too lazy to google the names of the players involved, I say let him. It's no different than, say, allowing Tim Purpura to be a major league General Manager. Ba-Zing!
Readers, do you have some dump trade stories you'd like to tell?