Sunday, August 17, 2008

Trading Peeve #3 (not one of mine)

Here's a trading peeve from Brett:
Owners that are dumping but won't trade anyone who has the slightest chance of being a keeper.

Examples: Torii Hunter at $28. His owner won't trade him because "he might want to keep him next year." They just can't comprehend that even though he may be a bargain by a buck or two, they'll get more by trading him to someone going for it this year.
I can see where Brett's coming from. I'm kind of on the fence with this one, though.

Let's take a look at Brett's example.

Torii Hunter isn't an elite Roto hitter, but is definitely in the next tier. His 4x4 Patton $ earnings from 2004-2007 were $24, $21, $26, $31. He's on pace to earn about $25 this year. The Patton bid limit on him coming into the season was $24. That sounds about right for next year. You might want to knock off $1 or $2 due to his advancing age, but you probably won't get him for less than $24 in start-over leagues.

So Torii Hunter is what I'd call an inflation keep. In a league with 20% inflation, that $24 bid becomes a $29 bid. That makes him a borderline keep at $28. Given my auction philosophy, I'd throw him back, but an owner who is more insecure about his ability to auction might want to lock in Hunter at $28.

Once again, it's worth trotting out this anecdote from two winters ago. It isn't enough to know that Hunter's borderline; you also have to analyze if what you're getting back for him is enough.

Using my bid limit of $24 and a hypothetical 20% inflation rate, Hunter at $28 gains his owner $0.67 versus simply throwing him back. In other words, trading Hunter might mean getting a better player back at the same price, but it might also mean spending $31 for a player like Hunter depending on the number of outfielders available, the top hitters available, and other factors unique to your auction.

If you were offered Lars Anderson for Torii Hunter straight up in this example, would you do it?

I might, I might not. In a league with unlimited farm keeps where farm players like Anderson were valued highly, I would, since I know I'd get someone like Hunter back next season when I was going for it. However, in a league where I had a limited number of farm keeps, I might not. Another factor would be whether or not Hunter would have a market in the off-season. Often, teams that have dumped pursue players like Hunter as inflation hedges. I might be able to get more for Hunter in March than I can in July.

Brett's second example isn't as clear cut:
Another guy has BJ Ryan at $15. A good keeper, to be sure - but I said I would offer him a package of keepers/minor leaguers who are much better than Ryan for next year, but he still wouldn't even talk about it. In his mind, Ryan is a keeper, and you don't trade keepers if you're dumping. The inflexibility is maddening.
Given Ryan's fat contract in real life, he'll close for the Blue Jays unless his arm completely falls off. He isn't an elite closer like Joe Nathan who should go for $32-34 in a non-keeper league, but he is a guy who should go for $23-25. So he isn't someone who is going to be a huge bargain like a B.J. Upton at $10 was coming into this year, but he's still a pretty important component heading into 2009 for a team that wants to contend.

Would I take Anderson for Ryan straight up? No way, since Ryan in a league with 20% inflation would be worth $10.50 more than the same pitcher I could buy for $15 at auction, even if I only assigned a conservative $23 bid limit to Ryan. I don't even know if Anderson's going to be up next year; it seems to me that the risk with Anderson is too great to give up a cheap, undervalued closer.

If the package improved, I'd certainly consider it. I'd have to assume, though, that Brett's not going to give up too much value that's tied into players this year to get Ryan unless he's desperate for saves, since Brett is competing for the title, and probably understands the cardinal rule surrounding dump trades: never give up more in this year value than you get.

Something fair for Ryan might be a deal like Alexai Ramirez and one or two farm players, depending on their value. But why would Brett do that? He's losing too much with Ramirez on offense unless he gets something back, and the owner who is moving Ryan might feel like he's barely upgrading on his freeze value with Ramirez for Ryan. Again, depending on the league, that may or may not be a fair assessment.

I do know what Brett's saying. There are owners who will stubbornly hold on to players who are way too expensive to be freezes, or hold on to marginal freezes like Hunter, even if they're getting offered someone good for next year. However, there also shouldn't be an imperative to give a B.J. Ryan away. A player who is $10.5 undervalued would have been one of the stronger freezes in my league in 2008, and would require a pretty hefty return for me to move him.

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