Fantasy Baseball Trading: Etiquette of Making Moves


Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

When I was in middle school my best friend’s mother sent me, my friend, and my brother to etiquette class. For three boys under the age of 12, it was just about the least fun thing you can imagine. Setting a table, answering the telephone, and folding things –properly!

We were made to push in our chairs, hold doors for the girls in class, and practiced writing notes.  Some of the things we covered in class we already knew, some things we never even considered. I remember being so glad to get out of there, take off my shirt and tie and get back to summer fun.

Years later, I think back on that class and remember so much of what we learned and to be honest, I am a better man for it.  It is important to know proper etiquette, especially these days with the whole Downton Abbey craze — chicks dig gentleman. Trust me guys, holding doors open, pulling out chairs, and setting a table, formal or otherwise, go a long way. Really these things are simple, and probably things you already know about, but it is nice to have a gentle reminder on how to conduct yourself around others.

Etiquette is almost like a set of unwritten rules that people abide by to make sure they don’t offend others, like not cutting in line at Starbucks or driving slow in the fast lane. There are unwritten rules in many different walks of life, even fantasy sports.

Baseball’s the sport of unwritten rules that need to be honored. Things like taking a 3-0 pitch, or not mentioning the possibility of a perfect game. Sometimes players themselves don’t even know them.  I think we all remember the “Get off my mound!” incident. Dallas Braden was irate that Alex Rodriguez would walk across the pitching mound. A-Rod claimed to have no idea it was even a thing.  Needless to say, A-Rod hasn’t walked across a mound since, and probably won’t be anytime soon.

Anyway, The point of all this, is that when it comes to fantasy baseball trading, there are certain pieces of etiquette seem to be lacking in some leagues. Probably far more leagues than not when you factor in every owner.

Well, for all you A-Rod type managers, here is your list of unwritten rule to abide by. I guess they are no longer unwritten.

1. Respond to trades: You obviously do not have to accept everything that comes across your team page, but at least acknowledge the fact the trade was received. A simple, thanks but no thanks will suffice. You also should avoid being a jerk about it — unless you have a valid reason. Such as:

  • Guy offers you Daniel Murphy for Robinson Cano
  • Sends you the EXACT same offer you just declined
  • Sends you a snarky message with the trade offer.

2. Set your trade block, accurately: If you have a guy marked as “on the block” and you receive a trade offer for him, you cannot respond something like, “Sorry, brah, Joe Mauer stays.”  If you do not want to trade Joe Mauer, then DON’T HAVE HIM “ON THE BLOCK!”

Also, respect the untouchables of other guys. Don’t get cute with that. If a guy is marked as untouchable and you’re still trying to get him, you should not offer anything short of an untouchable. Or at minimum a pair of players said owner has interest in. Really, I suggest not offering anything out of the blue.

3. Your word should be your bond: If you are negotiating via email, text, or otherwise and you agree to a trade, it is very bad form to back out when it comes to pressing “accept” minutes, hours or even a day later.

What I mean is, choose your words carefully when using texts or emails to negotiate.  If you say something along the lines of, “Done deal, offer it!”  You are bound by fantasy baseball law to accept that trade.

Even something like, “I like this”, “I think we have a deal”, or “great offer!”  is at best being a tease if you don’t accept. No one likes a tease. Simply respond with phrases like, “I will take a closer look when I’m at a computer”, “let me sleep on it”, or simply don’t say anything and just accept or decline when you decide.

These are for sure some things that will hurt your relationships with the other owners in your league and really, you will need good relations for future trades. Trading can be a great way to better your team and if you have a chance to win down the stretch. The more trade partners you have the better off you are.

If you have ticked off every guy in your league, you will kick yourself when you see the possible trades that work for you and them both and can’t make it happen. Clave wrote a great article a while back about how to fish for trades. This operates with the same principle, don’t offend everyone until you have no one left to trade with.

It is not only important in fantasy sports, but in life as well. Ever heard of the phrase don’t burn bridges? Some people like to quit a job in grandiose way, like the girl that quit in a commercial at the Super Bowl.

Even though this has a hint of George Costanza to it, people who burn bridges are immature and people don’t want to be friends with them. Think about it next time you find yourself using questionable trade tactics.