Now that you have a plan of what you want to accomplish with your trade, let’s look at some things that will help you achieve your objective.
And I mention a plan because you should very rarely make a trade on a whim. Yes, you may want your trade partner to think that, but if you don’t have a clear idea as to what you want to acquire and what you are willing to give up to gain what your team needs, you are not going to be very successful.
A trade plan could be as simple as:
-Trading excess saves for a starting pitcher.
-Seeing what the best minor leaguer or draft pick upgrade you can get for an expiring contract.
-Trading a middle infielder for a starting pitcher.
Whatever the plan is, use the old sales bromide "Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan."
I stressed direct live or phone communication whenever possible as you will learn more about your trade partner’s feelings and preferences when you are in the moment. This approach can often work better than someone reading your e-mail and then having too much time to get a second opinion or even worse, offer the player you want to a different team.
But whether the communication is direct or via your keyboard, here are a few tips to help you negotiate:
Use questions to draw your opponent into the process
This could be something as simple as “Who do you like better, Matt Carpenter or Kolten Wong?”, regardless of whether those are his players or your players. That information not only will help you in deciding on an offer but it will help your trade partner start to embrace or release the player he doesn’t choose.
Offer your trade partner a choice of players from your team
Different from above being that you are now closer to closing the deal, but this makes the other team feel like they are in control of choosing the player they are getting. Stating that “I would like either Wade Davis or Dellin Betances for this starting pitcher” is giving your trade partner more control, which gets you much closer to a deal. You can ause the reverse of “I will trade you Wade Davis for either Nathan Karns or Ubaldo Jimenez.” This gives them a choice, and while you should obviously ask for players that you want, you should frame it so you are happier with the less obvious choice and elated if you get the “higher rated” guy.
Unless you are dealing with a very fragile temperament or trading for a known widely desired commodity, you can always ask for another player or upgrade
Phrases like “We are really close but I just need a little more" or “Throw in any pitcher on your bench and let’s do this” will often get you another piece to use or trade later.
The one thing you want to get out of your head is the silly notion that you have to “win” a trade. I see this in questions all the time and it is worse than nails down a chalkboard. As long as you are improving your team and your trade partner is happy with what he got, it is a good trade for both of you, and that is all that matters. You shouldn’t care what anyone else (save your partner) thinks in terms of exchanged player value if you made your team better for the rest of the season.
Next week, we will look at some examples of rebuilding trades in keeper leagues.