Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 4: The Opening Trades

It’s not easy to be a new owner in an existing league. Often times a number of the owners in a league will know each other from either other corners of the internet or from real life, so it’s not unusual to feel left out at the beginning. But if you play your cards right and are willing to put in just a little bit of effort, you’ll feel like a seasoned member of the league before you know it.

There are many different ways to go about your business as a new owner in an existing league. Personally, there are four things I like to do in order to build up the most potential trade partners down the line:

Step 1 – No matter how bad the name of the team I’m taking over is, I will not change it until I’ve had some roster turnover. I do this both because it’s subconsciously more disarming for teams to deal with a team name they’re familiar with and because since it’s not a team I would have built, I don’t want to put my own stamp on it until it looks like something I want to put my own stamp on.

Step 2 – Post a message on the board saying that you’re excited to join and that you’re going to make a large portion of your team available for trade shortly. This will get the other owners excited – although, a number of them will probably be excited that there’s a potential sucker joining the league that they can take advantage of.

Step 3 – Look through the league transaction history and see which teams are the most active on the trade market. This can help you figure out who the teams that are just trying to rip you off are (fewer trades) and who the teams that legitimately like to deal are (more trades). It’s crude, but is generally pretty accurate.

Step 4 – Post your initial “on-the-block” list with a relatively short list of guys. Mine, which I discussed in Part 3 of the series, is only nine players long. For a league with 40+ man rosters, this seems reasonable. You don’t want to put 25 guys or more on the list as you may overwhelm other owners or have names get lost in the shuffle. You want them to know that you have a plan for what you’re doing, as it will make negotiations easier. Plus, if they want a guy that’s not on your list, they’re going to send you an offer for him anyway.

Much more after the jump…

Once you open the floodgates, you will get a real feel for how active a league is. If it’s a league where most owners are pretty active, that first 24 hours will be a real eye-opener. You’ll get e-mails and low-ball trade offers. Most owners will assume that you do not know what you are doing until they are proven otherwise – and this brings us to one of the most important guidelines for taking over a dynasty league team:

Make sure your first trade is a strong one.

You don’t get another chance to make a first impression, so make it good. That is how you will start to filter out the garbage trade offers that come in. Since you’re not going to be competitive the remainder of the season (or in my case, next year as well), the way you get respect is by getting a great return in your first deal. And it becomes so much easier to deal with other owners when they know that you are a knowledgeable owner.

In my case, the first real bite came (not surprisingly) on Jeremy Hellickson. This is where I was going to need to make a killing since he’s my biggest dynasty league asset that I’ve put on my “on-the-block” list. Going into the conversation, I was aiming for one player with at least similar upside that has MLB experience, two current top-100 prospects who should be up by 2014 and a lower-level flier. Once the negotiations went on, and my price was a little high, the other owner asked me to include Derek Holland as well – so we went back and forth until we settled on a 9-player trade which I was very happy with:

I dealt Jeremy Hellickson and Derek Holland for Brett Anderson, Travis d’Arnaud, Jedd Gyorko, Aaron Sanchez, Taylor Guerrieri, Jose Campos and a first round draft pick. (June 4, 2012)

Mission accomplished, and I’ll tell you why. To me, Brett Anderson from 2014 on is not just similar to Jeremy Hellickson from 2014 on – but I like Anderson better from a skill standpoint, he is a year younger and doesn’t pitch in the AL East. Travis d’Arnaud is one of the best prospects in baseball, and although catcher was a position of strength for me already, this opens up the possibility of dealing Matt Wieters in the off-season. Gyorko is a solid prospect (easily in the Top 100), who should be pretty valuable in this format even if he doesn’t hit for much power in PETCO. The other coup here was the trio of potential stud pitchers. I expect Guerrieri and Sanchez to be in my top 50 prospects for 2013 (Guerrieri was on the Top 100 last year and Sanchez was a very late cut). Campos would join them if he were healthy, but he’ll probably come up a little short. My team was missing high-ceiling prospects (especially arms), and this trade netted me six of them, if you include the first rounder. And for the record, the players I dropped to make room for these guys: Aubrey Huff, Eric Young Jr and Edinson Rincon.  No one I will miss.

Upon the completion of that deal, more offers started to come in. And within the next week and a half, I made three additional trades. The other consequence of the first trade was that I was now able to focus on getting prospects I’m personally high on, since I was able to at least alleviate some of my depth problem. Here are those deals in chronological order:

1)    Traded J.J. Putz and Carlos Perez for David Robertson and Blake Swihart (June 6, 2012)

2)     Traded Chris Davis, Jonathan Broxton and Julio Borbon for Oscar Taveras, Casey Kelly and Chipper Jones (June 13, 2012)

3)     Traded Ryan Kalish for Carlos Martinez (June 14, 2012)

Let’s start with the biggest name. Oscar Taveras is a guy I’m really, really high on and very badly wanted to get, especially with the dearth of above-average options in my OF. He’s raking in AA, he doesn’t strikeout very much (great for points leagues) and he just turned 20, what’s not to love? Casey Kelly and Blake Swihart are also guys I’m very high on. Kelly was turning a corner before he got hurt in April and rebounded to make his major league debut in late August. I expect him to be working on his second full season in 2014 at the age of 24. You may also be asking why I grabbed another catcher in Swihart. The answer: I love his bat. On top of that, I like Robertson’s chances of being a closer in 2014 much better than Putz’s. Finally, Ryan Kalish was not a guy I had put on the block initially, but to spin him for an arm like Martinez with his huge upside? I’ll do that any day of the week and twice on Sunday. The great thing about Martinez in fantasy leagues is that you don’t have to get stressed about whether he’s a starter or a reliever – if he ends up in the pen, he’ll be a high-end closer and still has value.

Now that the initial trades are in the rear view mirror, it’s time to rebuild the base of your roster through free agency – and we’ll continue with this in Part 5.

Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 1: Setting the Table
Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 2: Establishing Your Time Horizon
Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 3: The Evaluation Stage

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9 comments on “Rebuilding a Dynasty League Roster, Part 4: The Opening Trades

  1. RotoLando says:

    I am enjoying this series, and starting to apply it to a dynasty league I just accepted an invite. It was a takeover job and I’m in the beginning stages, plotting my time horizon.

    Since I am not a close follower of prospects, I was wondering if you could help me put these guys into their categories of “High upside, close” “Low upside”, etc…

    Jake Marisnick
    Javier Baez
    Nick Franklin
    Zach Lee
    Brad Peacock
    Taylor Guerrieri
    Jorge Bonifacio
    Wilmer Flores
    Aaron Sanchez
    Luis Heredia
    George Springer
    Mikie Mahtook
    Robert Stephenson

    I would totally appreciate it. Thanks a lot. I am really liking this blog. I was linked here from Fake Teams.

    • Thanks for the kind words. Best of luck with your new dynasty league team! Here’s how I would categorize the guys you have:

      High upside, close — Marisnick, Springer
      High upside, far — Baez, Guerrieri, Bonifacio, Sanchez, Heredia, Stephenson
      High probability — Franklin, Lee
      Low upside — Peacock, Flores, Mahtook
      Low probability — none

      I’m a big fan of your entire high upside, far group. All of those guys have the potential to be impact fantasy players. I’m not as high on Marisnick and Springer as they both have shown some holes in their game, but both still carry big potential regardless. If you have any further questions, feel free to ask — either here or by e-mail at dynastyguru AT gmail DOT com.

  2. Derek says:

    I wouldn’t mind seeing those guys ranked either, as they give a good cross section of value.

    I really like the name psychology piece, never thought about it, might try it some day.

    I recently took over a dynasty team that is awful and I am really not finding the league a good fit. The managers are hard to deal with and the scoring/rules make it extremely challenging to turn the roster over. I am thinking about just giving the team up @ the end of the season, since I have yet to make any trades but 4 names in the minor league system give me pause: Tavares, Bundy, T. Walker, and Tallion. And the 2nd pick in this years draft. Wondering if I should stick it out…

    • Thanks Derek – I appreciate it. One great thing about fantasy leagues is that there’s a lot of them. More than anything else, this is all supposed to be fun, so if you’ve stumbled into a situation where it’s not fun for you, I’d explore finding another league. But with that said, it certainly makes it tougher to walk away when you have top-shelf minor league talent like that..

      I will be doing a full Top 150 dynasty league prospect list in the off-season, so unfortunately you’ll have to wait until then to see exact rankings, but here is a quick idea of how I’d rank them off the top of my head (still have a lot of research to do):

      Baez, Guerrieri, Sanchez, Marisnick, Heredia, Springer, Franklin, Lee, Bonifacio, Stephenson, Flores, Mahtook, Peacock.

      • derek says:

        Thanks for the reply. See below, think I’m going to give it a full-season’s time to see if I like it. In other words, the minor league talent’s too tempting to give up LOL

        Also, as for your “start off with a big trade” idea, I joined another roto league recently that I love (18 team, 6×6 w/ Holds/OBP, 30 man rosters and deep minors), and this was my first trade:

        I gave up Kyle Seager, Tommy Hanson, and Kendrys Morales
        I received Gerrit Cole, Jorge Bonifacio, and Mitchell Boggs

        Hope it works out for me!

      • Sounds good. I’m a big Gerrit Cole fan (Bonifacio as well), so I think you got some nice talent back there. I’ve also been on the “sell Tommy Hanson for 50 cents on the dollar” train for a while. Good luck!

    • RotoLando says:

      Your team sounds interesting (even if the league and managers don’t). Is it ESPN? You want someone to take it over?

      • derek says:

        It’s Yahoo. Thanks for the offer, but think I might hold on to it. I have always been a roto player, and this is my first H2H league, so I think I’m going to give myself an entire season to see if it’s just the format I don’t like, or maybe I will end up liking it more. Reading this blog has inspired me to tough out the challenge for a season. I’ve had a few discussions about trades but have largely flown under the radar so far. Gonna see if I can work my magic in the off-season when people might be more negotiable.

  3. Justin says:

    Get in a real fantasy league, none of those trades would ever go through in any of my leagues. Oscar Tavares for Chris Davis, Jonathon Broxton and Julio Borbon? Kalish for Carlos Martinez? Get real lol what a joke

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