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Dynasty Baseball Offseason Prep: Step 4 – Draft Day!

Baseball is basically here as pitchers and catchers report this week. Rookie drafts are upon us. If you have been following this series in the offseason, you have already been preparing. You focused on the phases of assessing last year, scouting the draft pool, and trading picks and players.  Having assessed your assets and liabilities, the draft is the time the whole league is involved in an action that will impact the league for years.  Even teams that traded away all their picks and are not interested in trading back in have played their cards.  The rookie draft can be the best moment of the year for you and your league-mates.  The advent of slow drafts means there are real opportunities for trading.  How should you attack this event?

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Dynasty Baseball Offseason Prep: Step 4 – The Draft

Trade up, for, down or away?

If there are 60 picks in your rookie draft, you have 60 decisions to make.  At the risk of stating the obvious, you end up with one of these six outcomes each time:

  • someone else’s pick, trade up for it.
  • someone else’s pick, acquire it for players.
  • someone else’s pick, stand pat.
  • your pick, trade down.
  • your pick, trade for players.
  • your pick, pick someone.

You down with OPP? (Other People’s Picks)

If a manager is on the clock, you can try to trade up for their pick.  In my experience, this is quite difficult to do by offering picks much later in a rookie draft.  Managers who post they would like to trade down often mean they see a tier of players where they value the current pick as much as the pick three or four spots down and want to leverage their insight for an additional asset. Of course, this does not help you if you do not happen to own a pick in that preferred range of return picks. Trading up multiple picks for one higher in the draft is a best practice when you see a player you really want but believe someone between your next pick and the sought pick will also target. Trading up because you are impatient is a bad idea.

The most common scenario for trading up I have found is to negotiate a few picks before your trade partner comes up to draft. They may have a player or two in mind.  If those players are drafted before their pick, they would be willing to trade down or out. You offer peace of mind to your trade partner with a trade.  Instead of going on tilt, perhaps in a slow draft period where they will not have time to sit down and research alternative backups, they can buy time and gain asset value with a later pick.

Can I interest you in a name you trust?

Trading rostered players for picks during a draft can be difficult.  Picks during the draft are usually at their peak value. Will you be able to trade Ricky Tiedemann for an on-the-clock pick that would net you Paul Skenes?  The ranking lists say yes, but usually I find my competitors say no in the heat of a draft. Three months from now, either might be more desirable than the other.

During the draft, your fellow drafters may be locked in on their first-year players.  New draft pool entrants have that ‘new car smell,’ not having yet been scuffed up by minor league struggles that face almost all prospects.  The exception to this rule might be those who did not ‘study for the test’ and find themselves unfamiliar with the 2023 draft pool entrants.  Sometimes these owners will be happy to take established names they know for the new names they do not yet have.

Deal with rejection

Mostly, others will be uninterested in trading their picks away. Why sh0uld they? Every manager sees their next pick as the chance to acquire just the prospect they have waited for to bolster their team. Whether they draft from rankings lists or their own research, odds are they see a player on the board they are very happy ‘slipped’ to this spot.  That manager does not want to listen to your Jedi mind tricks, their mind is already made up.  Sometimes, that pick is even queued in a slow draft and the manager made up their mind days before.  Just relax, everything will be fine.

You are on the clock

These are the five words you have been waiting for for many months.  What do you do when they appear on your screen?

You have much more control of what happens in the draft when you are on the clock.  While other managers may be unavailable or uninterested in hearing about your offers for their picks, you hold the floor when on the clock. The more you have prepared, the more likely your opinions are to differ from the status quo.  Will your competitors stick closely to public lists?  The more idiosyncratic your ranks, the more likely players you highly value are to be available later in the draft and the better it is to trade down for additional assets.

Your considerations here are the inverse of the first section.  Now you have to decide if there is an impatient competitor you can allow to trade up.  Perhaps you will be willing to trade out of a pick entirely for a prospect or even a major league piece that is of higher value but feels less interesting to the other manager at this time of year.  While as a matter of etiquette, I do not recommend stalling while on the clock fishing for trade offers, available managers are more likely to respond to offers while your pick is up or coming up.

The post-snipe ‘trade-down’

One move I have always wanted to pull off is a post-snipe trade-down. We all know the satisfying feeling of making a selection and then having other managers declare that you sniped their pick.  If you make such a pick, you might want to reach out privately to that manager to see if they would like to trade up for your selection after the fact.  While some managers may decide not to chase a player they just hoped might be available later in the draft, others with strong interest in the player you took may be willing to negotiate a deal.

The most important draft advice

Drafts are supposed to be fun. This is a great hobby. Interacting with your league-mates can be the best part of your draft – try to enjoy it!

And feel free to share some of your trade experiences in the comments.  I would love to read them.

Jesse is the host of the podcast Dynasty Sports Life, covering Dynasty Baseball, Football, Basketball, and multi-sport leagues.  He also co-hosts the podcast Fantasy Hockey Life, focusing on Dynasty Hockey.

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