The oodles of recent Major League trades should have fantasy managers eager to copy the moves of real-life GMs and improve their own roster. And in most fantasy leagues, the trade deadline is just a couple of weeks away. There is no sense waiting at this point — it’s time to get active on the trade market.
Here are some tips for making August deals.
Dissect your standings
I know I have made this point in previous midseason articles, but I need to make it again — you must locate the most tightly contested areas of your league standings. Stolen bases are cool, but not if you are 20 steals ahead of the trailing team and 15 steals behind the next club. And it doesn’t matter if your place in the steals standings is second or second-last, because you aren’t moving anyway. If you aren’t in first place, you need to figure out where you can add the most points in the final two months and take risks to make that happen. And if you are leading your league, you need to determine which categories are your key ones to protect. Once you have completed that process, you can make trades to move your team in the right direction.
Make an offer they can’t refuse
Once you have figured out where you need to improve, you need to find managers in your league who are the least likely to care about those categories. For example, the manager who leads the league in wins and whiffs will likely give you a starting pitcher for a very reasonable return. Although you are looking to attack certain categories, you are also always hoping to find deals that return good value. And at this point in the season, the best way to do that is to show the other manager that a certain player on their team is no longer very useful to them.
Don’t get cute
This isn’t the time of year for low-ball offers. After four months of action, we have a pretty good idea of how this year’s crop of Major Leaguers stands up. Also, you don’t have time to mess around with low-ball offers and long negotiations at this stage in the season. Finally, you don’t want to be “that guy” who won their fantasy league by manipulating an unsuspecting competitor into a lopsided August deal. People remember stuff like that, and it will come back to bite you down the road.
Throw-ins are your friend
I like to create roster space for much of the season, but this is the time of year when I don’t mind dealing for depth. The MLB Trade Deadline created many waiver-wire gems, but most of them have been snapped up by now. The new MLB rules against August trades and massive September roster expansion will stifle the flow of waiver wire talent. For those reasons, this is a good time to be on the bulk side of a 2-for-1 trade. Or even better, this is a good time to negotiate a deal and then ask for a small piece to be added in at the end. The other manager will likely concede a non-essential player in August, especially if they are getting someone they really want.
Stack a lineup
This strategy is specifically for those who are in the middle of the pack in their league. At this point in the season, you know that your random selection of hitters is unlikely to heat up at the same time. After all, if that was possible, it probably would have already happened. The most likely way to heat up your lineup for the stretch run is to trade for a single-team stack. For example, the manager who rosters Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts could trade for a couple more Boston hitters, in hopes that the Red Sox finish the season on fire. The same can be done with pitchers, where a fantasy manager tries to roster 2-3 starters and the closer from a single Major League team, in hopes of getting wins and saves in the same games.
Project a starter’s schedule
There are some obvious flaws in this plan, but I have made it work with great success in the past. We rarely care about a starter’s season-opening schedule when drafting in March, as we assume that the easy and hard starts will eventually even out. But we are in a different situation down the stretch. When considering dealing or acquiring a starter this month, you should project his next 5-6 starts, on the assumption that he works every fifth game (or sixth game for players on a few teams such as the Angels and Mariners). Some starters will have a few matchups against teams such as the Marlins, Pirates, or Rockies while others might have a tough run against the likes of the Red Sox, Blue Jays, and White Sox. Their schedule in the short term can make a huge difference.
Don’t hold back
This final tip is especially meant for those who are in the middle of the pack in their leagues. Fantasy managers aren’t going to remember who finished fourth or lower. So, if you’re languishing in the middle of the pack, you might as well make bold moves to get ahead. You likely won’t remember every 2021 fantasy trade you make, which means that you should go for it and accept any deal that looks good to you and shakes things up. Have as much fun as you can in the coming weeks and cross your fingers for a title.