With the Fantasy trade deadline approaching, owners have just a few days to put together a competitive offer for elite talent. The trade deadline can be one of the most stressful times of the year for owners. With that in mind, some of our esteemed Fantasy experts offered up some of their strategies when navigating the deadline.
Question: What, in your mind, is the most effective strategy for making a trade in Fantasy leagues?
R.J. White: Find a team that works as a logical trade partner. Just because you want a specific player doesn't mean that that player's owner can use any of your appealing trade chips. Once you find that perfect team, explain to them how you think that a trade can make both teams better before sending a specific offer and they will likely be inclined to work with you to build a good trade rather that feel at odds with you like you may be trying to pull a fast one.
Igor Mello: I like to find a trade partner that is dealing with injury issues and see where I can help on their end, with the idea that one or two of their players also fit my needs. That said, I typically look at teams outside of the playoff race looking to make a late push. Those are usually the most vulnerable owners to negotiate with, that is, if your team is doing well. The biggest mistake someone at the bottom of the standings can do is offer advice to a potential playoff team on how their team can improve if they traded for Player X.
Chris Cwik: The easiest way to figure out who's available is a quick check on the trade block. If there aren't any guys who fit your needs, check out the league standings. What you want to do here is deal from strength while finding a team with a big deficiency in that area. If you have pitching, find a team that leads the league in offense, but is eighth or ninth in pitching. That way, you're both dealing from strength. If you're unsure whether a player is available, it never hurts to ask.
Question: With the deadline approaching, give me one hitter and one pitcher you are looking to acquire.
R.J.: Mark Trumbo is one guy who can move the needle when it comes to power categories in Fantasy leagues who will likely be available at a cheap price due to his disappointing numbers and lengthy stay on the disabled list. Balls in play are going to start falling for hits at some point, and he has enough power that collecting home runs in bunches shouldn't be an issue in his favorable home park. I'd try to get Clayton Kershaw on the pitching side, but failing that, Danny Salazar has looked pretty good in his two starts back with the Indians. He probably won't cost a fortune to acquire, as he likely hasn't been on his owner's roster for very long.
Igor: I'm on the outside looking in at the moment (seventh place in six-team playoff format) in my most competitive, partly due because of my closers. I started the season with Jason Grilli and Sergio Romo, and well, you know the rest. I'm currently looking at a cheap acquisition like Joaquin Benoit or Jake McGee, guys who are under 20 saves that could see more chances down the road. If the Rays are making a push for a Wild Card spot, they'll need McGee to continue plowing throwing hitters like he has as of late. He's converted 11 of his last save attempts, and has allowed only one run over his last seven innings pitched.
As far as hitters go, the same rules apply. I'm in desperate need of shortstop help and stolen bases, so the guys I'm targeting are Dee Gordon, Alexei Ramirez and Jose Reyes -- all have swiped at least two bags in the last 14 days. Gordon has a .357 on-base percentage, with eight singles, three doubles and one triple over his last 39 at-bats. Reyes is not enjoying his best season statistically, but already has eight home runs on the year, four away from having his best power numbers since 2008. He's certainly a candidate to heat up down the stretch. Last year Ramirez averaged a stolen base approximately every five games. He has 17 through 105 games and is on pace for at least nine more stolen bases the rest of the way, probably one of the best speedy shortstops available for trade.
Cwik: I've touted Matt Holliday and Chase Headley as potential second-half surgers, and it looks like both are on their way to fulfilling that promise. Nothing in Holliday's stat line suggested his power was gone, and he's shown that recently. You still might be able to scoop him up on the cheap. The same things apply to Headley.
As far as pitchers, Zack Wheeler looks like a potential second-half breakout. Same with Jake Odorizzi. Both has higher BABIPs than normal, and have plenty of potential. Both can be had for less than they are worth right now.
Question: How do you acquire big time talent once the deadline passes?
R.J.: After the trade deadline, I think you have to worry less about acquiring big talent and more about addressing specific needs with your team. If you analyze the standings of your roto league and see you can potentially make up a lot of ground in steals and probably won't move either way in home runs, it makes sense to drop a power guy like Mike Morse or Torii Hunter for the speedier Eric Young, Jarrod Dyson, Sam Fuld or any number of SB options, even if you'd rather have Morse or Hunter on Opening Day. It's important to identify what route gives you the best chance for success and commit to taking it, even if the moves you make wouldn't be something you'd normally do.
Igor: I don't have the expectations of acquiring a big time talent after the deadline, because the chances of that happening aren't too favorable. It's obviously wise to keep an eye on the waiver wire like hawk, especially if you're outside of the playoff picture like I am in my most important league. My best advice would also be to keep an eye in the minors. Rosters will expand on Sept. 1. You should be targeting the top prospect available and probably minor-leaguers with the best balance between big-league experience and potential. Some big-league teams will pull the trigger early because of injuries, just ask the Dodgers last year with Yasiel Puig and the Athletics with Sonny Gray.
Cwik: As Igor said, one of the best ways to get big-time talent during the second half is prospect hunting. There's always potential to find a breakout guy during the last month of the season. That's also the point where injured players on bad teams start getting shut down, so prospects can play a big role down the stretch. On top of that, targeting players returning from injury can help. If Derek Holland looks good during his rehab assignment, I won't hesitate to pick him up a few weeks early.