In fantasy baseball, you never want to be "That Guy."
That Guy no one in your league wants to trade with.
That Guy known for making lopsided deals.
That Guy who, when he makes you a trade offer, insults your intelligence -- and makes you think about replying with a nasty e-mail or message-board post.
No one wants to be That Guy or That Girl (ladies, you, too, can join this undesirable club).
Here are five tips to ensure you don't get hit with that label and still make an effective trade in fantasy baseball:
1. Do your homework
This is a must for almost any move in fantasy, and it's even more of a factor when trying to improve your team in a trade.
When you identify your target, make sure he's the right fit. Make sure you have placed an adequate value on said target. And make sure you are trading for him at the right time.
Get answers to some of the following questions before you make an offer to another owner: Is Target X in the midst of a career downturn? Is it just a slump? Will he continue to be this effective? What do his career averages say?
2. Identify your needs
If a disgruntled owner is shopping a big-name player, you might be tempted, but you shouldn't jump just for the sake of jumping.
The point of any trade should be improving your team, not making it look intimidating on paper, phone, laptop or computer monitor.
Identify the weakest position(s) on your team and determine which assets you can afford to trade.
If you have a loaded outfield and six strong starting pitchers but are starting David Eckstein at second base, you should be prepared to part with an outfielder or pitcher -- or both -- in your quest to get better at second.
3. Know your opponents' needs
You're looking for a second baseman, and Owner A has Ian Kinsler and Brandon Phillips. Naturally, Owner A should be the guy or gal with whom you exchange offers, right?
If you've already determined the positions at which you can afford to deal a player or two are outfield and starting pitcher, and Owner A is loaded at both positions but is playing Russell Branyan at first base, he or she might not be your ideal trade partner.
That doesn't mean Owner A won't be willing to deal Phillips for one of your outfielders (nothing owners do in trades should surprise us, as anyone who has seen an owner give up on his or her first-round pick after Week 2 can attest), but you should find another owner or two as backup plans.
If Owner B doesn't have Phillips as an expendable asset, but does have a weak outfield and Howie Kendrick on his bench, you might be better served by making him or her an offer.
You'd rather have Phillips than Kendrick? Sure, but at what price?
Often, the drop from the likes of Phillips to Kendrick is so negligible it won't impact your team on a week-to-week basis. At least not in the same manner as trading a stud outfielder in a desperation ploy to land Phillips.
The goal should be significantly improving your weak position without significantly affecting your positions of strength.
4. Check the waiver wire before you make a trade offer
You want to acquire Phillips, but you're surprised to discover Carlos Guilen available on your league's waiver wire.
You can acquire Guillen for nothing except a potential transaction fee and a bench player you're eager to drop. He's no Phillips, but the Tigers second baseman is a better career hitter and has the potential to produce similar power numbers. Phillips is much more of an asset in steals and runs scored, but you might not need help in those categories.
Do the math. If you're in a head-to-league, determine what Phillips and Guillen will give you in an average 30 at-bat week and decide if the difference between the two is enough to warrant trading a player or two at another position.
Often, waiver-wire acquisitions are an easy way to improve your club without giving up anything but a buck and Branyan.
5. Be fair
You want to get the best of any deal, but the result shouldn't be a deal that is so lopsided it invokes immediate laughter and/or disdain from the rest of the league.
You can improve your team without selling a fellow owner shorter than Sylvester Stallone.
Fair is good. More uneven than the up-and-down nature of Carlos Zambrano and Milton Bradley is not.
In short, don't be That Guy.
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