Smart Elsewhere #6 – Trading Strategies from Fred Zinkie

As Major League Baseball’s trade deadline passes, it’s a good reminder to review your league standings and diagnose any weaknesses in your team that need to be addressed before the stretch run.  Once you understand where you are and where you need to go, hit the trade market.  But how do you ensure you’re making the best deal?  How do you avoid getting frustrated by the often aggravating trading process?

Expert Interviews

The Baseball HQ Radio podcast, hosted by Patrick Davitt, is my favorite resource for learning new strategies and to be exposed to different ways of thinking about fantasy baseball.  In each episode, Davitt interviews at least one industry expert.  And we’re talking respected experts like Ron Shandler (creator of Baseball HQ, among many other accomplishments), Todd Zola (creator of, fantasy author all over the web), Jeff Erickson (senior editor at Rotowire, expert league winner, writer of the year), and Larry Schecter (five time TOUT Wars winner).  There is a lot to be learned from guys like this.

During the interviews, Davitt inquires about the week’s hot players and current news, but most interestingly to me, he also ask about strategies and approaches the visiting experts use.  The topics can cover things as minor as FAAB usage techniques to as more significant topics like the July 5th trading discussion between Davitt and fantasy expert Fred Zinkie.

Talking Trades

Fred is a participant in the respected TOUT and LABR rotisserie mixed leagues and he is an extremely active trader (it sounds like he’s made more than 20 trades between the two leagues).  At the time of the interview, he was also leading both of these expert leagues.

Someone able to make that many trades, in expert leagues, and use the trades to push him into first place, must have some extremely interesting insight into how to make a trade.

How To Engineer a Trade

I’ll cherry pick some of Zinkie’s recommendations on how to engineer a deal and increase your likelihood of successfully making a trade.

  1. Don’t think about your team first.  Always start with the other team in mind.  
  2. Look over the rosters of the league and identify weaknesses for each particular team.
  3. When contacting the other team, use phrasing like, “It looks like you could use this…”.   Make it about them.  
  4. Verify that they’re interested in making some kind of trade.
  5. Then move forward and identify specific players to be involved in the trade.
  6. If you receive an insulting offer or insulting counter, take a step back and approach the deal realizing there may be a fundamental difference in how they value the players involved.  Maybe they’re really asking for another player or to address another weakness.

Other Thoughts

Fred also had an interesting thought about targeting inherently flawed players, whether it be in the draft or via trade.  Players that might be elite in one category but below average in many other, players with terrible batting averages, players proven to be injury prone, players coming off of P.E.D.  suspensions.  These flawed players will have something about them that certain managers won’t touch, no matter the price.  If you’re in a 15 team league, and because of flaws, at the draft, you’re then only competing against 10 teams instead of 15 for a player, you will end up paying less.  The law of supply and demand, if you will.

Highly Recommended

I highly recommend subscribing to or regularly checking in on the Baseball HQ Radio podcasts.  You can even go back in time and just listen to the expert commentary from old episodes.  The shows are scheduled in such a way that you can easily skip forward to Davitt’s discussion with that week’s expert and then bail on the episode once they move on to discussing only current topics.

Links To The Podcast