Trading and Building for the Future

Trading is usually a big part of any Strat-o-matic league. Some people will make a deal on the drop of the hat, while others are more reluctant. But even the most ardent believers in building through the draft have to make some trades eventually.

There are probably as many different schools of thought on trading as there are Strat players. Some people say you should always trade for youth, while others say you should always get the best player in the deal. My philosophy is that it completely depends on the situation.

You need to look at the situation your team is in - are you going to contend his year, are you a year away, are you three years away, etc. And how many holes do you have? Regardless of when you expect to contend, you still have to field a team for the current season, so you need to take that into consideration as well.

Let's start with a team that's trying to win this year. If you are serious about making a title run, you have to go all out. In a league with 24 or more teams, you do not have the chance often enough to let it slip by. The first thing to do is make an honest evaluation of your team and see where you can improve. Then look around the league and see who might be available that you can use. The best place to start is with the rebuilding teams. They probably have some "one-year wonder" players that they are willing to trade.

You should make trades where you get quality for quantity. You need players that can help you win this season and are better than what you have. You need to look at every trade to see if it gets you closer to the championship this year.

Now let's look at a team that's rebuilding. You need to decide when you think you can contend. Is it next year, two years, or even longer. Then go through your rosters and decide which players you think will be able to help you win at that point. These are the players you want to keep.

Now go through your roster and take the players that have value now, but who probably won't when you are ready to win. These are players who are coming off their career years. Their value will never be higher, so now is the time to trade them. A contending team will be happy to give you good young prospects or draft picks in return.

You also need to make sure you can field a team this season. It's very hard to rebuild when you have to use all your draft picks just to fill holes.  There are some people who say that you should never trade a superstar for a package, and generally I agree. But there are times when you should, and this is one of those times.

If you have an older star you can deal him and get four or five players in return to fill your holes and provide some good future potential. This then allows you to draft the best available players rather than just picking to fill holes. You now have a good base to build on rather than wasting a year just trying to field a team.
For the mechanics of actually making trades, you see a lot of people just send out general e-mails listing players that are available. This sometimes works, but it's not that effective because you are just sitting back and waiting for people to come to you. If you are serious about making a trade, you need to scout the other teams and decide who you want, and then make an offer that you think will fit their needs. Managers value players differently, so there's a good chance your first offer will be rejected, but the other manager will probably come back with a counter offer of some sort, unless he considers the player an untouchable. And once you start talking, you might find that other players are available that you didn't think would be.

If you are looking to trade a player, shop around. You really want to get a good idea of his value before closing a deal. If you take the first offer that comes along, you might regret it later.

To sum up, the key to trading is to make deals that will improve your team for the season you expect to contend. And if that is this year, then don't be afraid to go for broke. You don't know when you will get another chance.