So here we go again into the seemingly never ending fantasy baseball offseason. Thank God for winter leagues, even though to me these seem like O’Doul’s when all you want is a good beer. Sure, it kind of taste likes beer but it’s definitely not cutting it. Fortunately, this time does serve a purpose if you play in keeper leagues that utilize minor leaguers.
By now, most of the popular prospect lists are out of date, which can be annoying, but it has an upside. There is a manager in your league (and likely more than one) that still uses them even though they were written seven or eight months ago. Your first task is to find this manager and teach him a lesson, even though he won’t likely even realize you taught him one at all. He won’t even notice you got one over on him until about five months when new prospect lists come out. That’s his fault, not yours.
Now, I’m sure you have some guys who sat high on their preseason rankings that have slid down on either your own list or one that you know of that stays updated. You likely have more than one if you keep enough minor leaguers. They will make a great package.
It can be hard to identify the right manager to prey upon. But there are two ways I like to go about it. First, and the easier of the two, is the offseason trading block. Throw a guy on there and list his preseason ranking, preferably a guy that has regressed slightly but you still want to keep — he is just the bait. When you get a message without any talk of his regression about his season, that’s your guy. The other method I use is the “contact everybody” method. It’s my favorite method, and it takes more time but has better results. Mass emails or PMs work wonders when trying to find the right manager. Do not forget to include the player’s preseason ranking when contacting managers, as it will weed out the more knowledgeable managers. You want the guy still holding onto those preseason rankings. He is in your league; you just have to find him.
When you find him, go for the throat. Just like you have guys sliding down, he has some that have made the leap. That’s your target. Ignore his players with big names; you won’t be getting a discount there. You want the guys who started the year out of the top 50, guys like Matt Wisler or even higher ranked guys who had good preseason rankings but not great — think Gregory Polanco or other similar players. I personally have snagged both Wisler and Polanco at substantial discounts already this offseason.
Now that you have your manager and player you want, it’s time for the most important step. You want to keep him from thinking on the trade at all. So send an offer that at the beginning of the season would have been a no-brainer, but now definitely looks better than it actually is. If you try to go too low or try to haggle, this will be your downfall. If he has to do research because he thinks it’s close, then you will likely lose your advantage. The moment he has to go Googling the players, you just lost out. So making it look like a trade he can’t say no to is extremely important.
You could think of this as a little sneaky, but if you don’t do it on purpose, another manager will likely do it by accident, especially in an active league.
This is also a strategy to watch out for when other managers come calling. I’m not the only one who has figure this out and exploited it. Always do your research and take preseason rankings with a grain of salt. Prospect lists are fluid and go out of date faster than Billy Hamilton can get from first to third.
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