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The Great Trade Robbery: A Case Study

Two weeks ago, and not more than two weeks into the season mind you, trading got underway. And oh man, did it get underway. There was drama. There was intrigue. There was shade. There were even clap-backs! It

The Great Trade Robbery: A Case Study

Estimated Reading Time: 14 Minutes

Every fantasy baseball player I know has that one league they would give anything to win. That one you just have the slightest bit of extra motivation for. You know the one. You have one too, I’ll bet. Maybe it’s the league with all of your college buddies. Maybe it’s a league of actors that you used to tour the country with once in a charter bus (love and miss you guys). For me, this league is an 11-team, Rotisserie scoring, 6×6 keeper league with 5-man prospect rosters. It’s deep, exciting, I don’t know any of the guys and ended up there by total chance, and it’s currently in its third year of existence. It’s a fantastic league that also keeps me captivated even when I’m totally out of the race. One aspect I love about the league is how frequently thelandscape seems to shift with trades. It’s a very active trading league, and so you always have to be on your toes wheeling and dealing whether it’s to position for a championship or to rebuild.

Two weeks ago, and not more than two weeks into the season mind you, the trading got underway. And oh man, did it get underway. There was drama. There was intrigue. There was shade. There were even clap-backs! It was a regular reality show on our league message boards, and I felt like that Michael Jackson GIF where he’s eating popcorn.


Before we go any further, let’s get some context going otherwise the drama will not achieve it’s full effect. If you care nothing for league context nonsense and want to skip to the shots fired, then by all means proceed to where it says “Start Reading Here, Plebian.”

Still with me? Ok, so like I said, this is a 6×6 league. That’s R, HR, RBI, SB, AVG, OPS for offense and SV, K, ERA, WHIP, QS, and K/BB. Semi-untraditional, but it’s fun. One important thing to note before we move on is how the keeper system works. This is pretty crucial to the story. In our league charter, it explains that each round of the draft is assigned a point value. The 1st round is 26, 2nd round is 25, 3rd round is 24, and so on. We get a 100 point keeper budget to use as we see fit every year before the draft. So, if you keep Trout in round 1, that is 26/100 of your points. Altuve in round 2 is 25 and so on and so on. You get the picture.

As you can probably guess, this system really works to your advantage when you have a bunch of late round keepers. Important to note is that the price of the keeper goes up one round every year. For instance, the guy who initially drafted Arenado got him in the 7th, so after two years, he’s now a 5th round keeper. Still an amazing price, but does that make sense? Good.

One last thing before we go. We have 5 man prospect rosters. At the beginning of the season, any player still with their real-life rookie eligibility is allowed to be drafted onto your prospect roster (we do this as a separate draft before the real thing) and kept there until you “call them up.” Calling them up means simply placing them on your active roster. You are allowed to keep them on the prospect roster even after the exhaust their eligibility in-season. The only time you are forced to call them up or drop them is off-season before the keeper deadline. So, for example, I have Mitch Haniger on my prospect roster. I could keep him on my prospect roster all season if I wanted. I wouldn’t be forced to call him up until next season. Got it? Let’s move on.


Welcome, back. So as I said before, this is an active trading league. Unfortunately, starting last year, it also became a veto heavy league. No idea why. A few seemingly balanced trades got vetoed especially at the deadline last year, and I have a feeling some people just don’t want to see their rivals position themselves for a title. Shady. Regardless, the veto monster was out again this year in April, and that’s when I decided it was time to grab the popcorn. So, without further delay, I present to my loyal reader…readers….


Note: I will be changing all team names to avoid embarrassment/protect the “integrity” of the league. All team names will be a close approximation to their actual team name though, so that’s fun.

It all began on April 18th as we had out first vetoed trade. It was as follows:

Team Xi’an Famous Foods (excellent place if you live in NYC by the way) GETS

Mike Trout (1st round pick)

Team Toronto Maple Leafs GETS

Josh Donaldson (1st) & Zack Greinke (7th)

Ok. That seems somewhat fair to me. Giving up a stud bat and a pitcher still trying to find his legs in the desert for the best offensive player in the land. I did not veto, but my league mates did not agree and promptly vetoed. Remember, veto is there to mainly prevent seeming collusion and someone dumping players for nothing in return. Obviously, the two involved parties were pissed.

After this trade got bounced, the commissioner decided he had had enough. He posts on the message board telling the league that because of the mockery we’ve made of the veto system, we can’t have nice things. From now on, league members will have to voice their dissent on the message boards within a day, and the commish will have ultimate veto power. So basically, we move to a jury and judge situation for all trades. I’m fine with this if it means it will stifle my trigger happy league mates. And, if you really disagree, it forces you to get your voice heard and make your argument instead of anonymously hitting veto to everything that doesn’t benefit you.

Fast forward a week. Team Xi’an Famous Foods is at it again. This is the trade that pops up in my email inbox:

Team Xi’an Famous Foods GETS

Paul Goldschmidt (1st) & Johnny Cueto (2nd)

Team Fat Babe Ruths GETS

Julio Urias (26th), Alex Bregman (19th), Jon Gray (12th), and Lewis Brinson (Prospect roster)

So, we see what’s going on here. On the surface, it appears that Babe Ruths has decided to build for the future while Famous Foods believes he can rise from the ashes of last place with Goldy and Cueto. A bold move indeed! My first reaction was “Ok, Babe Ruths just gave up A LOT to start a rebuild, but he’s got some solid prospects coming back. Respect dude. Not what I would have done, but I see the reasoning.” Also, when you look past the names, you see that all these top-flight prospects have INSANE value moving forward. Bregman in the 19th. Urias in the 26th. Even Gray in the 12th could be a nice bargain if he comes back healthy. My goodness, gracious what keeper value!!! THIS is when it gets good, folks.

The commissioner takes to the message boards almost immediately. He’s all hot and bothered and goes IN on these two. It’s about to get crazy up in this message board. He says Babe Ruths is already giving up on a season that’s only 10% in the books. He then shades on Bregman by calling him a “middle-tier infield prospect” and says Urias/Gray won’t combine to match the volume or production of Cueto any time soon.

He says moving forward, if you want to acquire top 5 round talent, you need to be giving up top 5 round talent. However, this is a keeper league. Teams are going to rebuild, and I kind of have a problem with the commish setting these kind of imaginary limits on our trades. It’s my team, you know? Who says I don’t value Urias as top 5 talent within the next calendar year? We all should be allowed to have our own strategy, I think. Nothing about this trade smells of collusion to me.

But, alas. I decide to hold my tongue. BUT Fat Babe Ruths sure doesn’t! He comes out swinging! It starts to get “lit” as the kids say.

“What’s the point of this being a dynasty keeper league then,” he quips at 9:40 AM on the message board.

He continues to say that by trading Goldy, he’s now freed up a permanent spot at 1B to play Hanley Ramirez and also Pujols at the CI spot. He says it also allows him to plug speed-demon Jose Peraza in at UTIL to get some SBs going. He complains that he and his co-owner don’t have a 3B at the moment. (WTF, dude?) He admits he is taking a hit on pitching (you think?), but claims “we’re trying to build a dynasty!” After all this, he starts complaining about the veto system and allowing one of the league members final say on trades. THEN, he drops this little nugget.

“Back in the old country we called that a Fuhrer!” HE CALLED THE COMMISH HITLER!

We’re just getting started.

12:33 PM. Team Big Mitts has decided to join the party. His message is simple. He tells Fat Babe Ruths he has no life. Oh s***.

12:55 PM. Fat Babe Ruths is ready to clap back. Here’s a direct quote. Sorry about the grammar. I changed nothing to maintain accuracy and to really capture the urgency of the message.

“Wow, problem solved. You are one cool guy. I bet whenever you walk into a room everyone turns their heads in awe and say that guy is the man, he’s so cool. His lifestyle is way too frantic and awesome for him to take the time to analyze a problem, instead he just drops these crazy dope one-liners. I wish I could be as cool as him.””

He basically just dropped a “your mama’s so fat” joke on the message board. I am going nuts at this point. This is HILARIOUS. I’m enjoying this thoroughly and can’t wait to see what comes next.

1:53 PM. Team Big Mitts trying to diffuse the situation says WOAH, BRO! Just tryin’ to get a fair trade done.

2:37 PM. Fat Babe Ruths. Here we go. He didn’t take kindly to this guy telling him he had no life, so he starts going IN on Big Mitts’ “s***ball roster.” Big Mitts is toward the bottom of the standings, and there is definitely a reason why. His team is not very good. Babe Ruths is not wrong about this. However, Babe Ruths takes some salt and just rubs it right in there. He calls Big Mitts a “perennial loser” and tells him to “keep [his] glib comments to [himself].” He closes out the reading of Big Mitts by telling him to step up to the plate and make some meaningful fantasy conversation instead of casting shade.

THEN Team Big Mitts admits to everyone at 4:51 PM that his team was autodrafted, and so we shouldn’t knock his team. That’s no excuse. Sorry, bro.

And now, we have a new player in the game! At 6:03 PM, Team My Team is Number One! pulls the “I don’t want to say anything, but I’m going to say something,” card. I hate that logic. If you weren’t going to say anything, then why ruin a good thing? Just watch from the sidelines like the rest of us, clown shoes! Anyways, Team Number One tells us all we should be friends and give each other Freddie Freeman hugs.

He has an optimistic approach to the whole thing and tries to statistically justify the trade. He even says Brinson could get called up and contribute 200 PAs, which is possible.

But he tricked us! He gave us the old one-two! The runaround! Did you think he just came to toss optimism, rainbows, and sunshine everywhere? HELL NO. This is fantasy baseball!!! He turns on a freaking DIME and tells Babe Ruths he’s irresponsible and a dumb dumb for not drafting a third baseman. He says just because you messed up doesn’t make the trade fair. A very Jekyll and Hyde response by Number One, but I dig that he stirred the pot up again. It was losing steam, and now we have an unexpected new player.

6:46 PM. We’re spilling over into dinner time. Fat Babe Ruths is back. Babe Ruths tells us all he isn’t giving up on the season yet, and this trade doesn’t indicate that. But like…it kind of does, homeboy. He says what I was initially thinking, though. If this is a true keeper league, we should be allowed to make moves that take advantage of the keeper system. Even if it is April. I agree with this. If you want a couple of high ceiling prospects, that’s your dice to gamble with. You should be able to acquire them! You paid your dues in March.

7:20 PM. The Commish (aka Team Seinfeld) is back. He’s all “bruh, I ain’t even mad you aren’t trying to compete until October 2019.” However, he is mad that top tier talent was traded in April for guys that may not work out in the end. Why keep Goldy just to flip him a week later? Now, the commish decides to reveal to all of us that multiple owners reached out to him against this trade. Don’t you think that information would have been useful before this moment? Here we are getting mad, and he doesn’t let us know that multiple league members were against this trade to begin with and not just him. I feel like that would have ended the argument right there. Anyways, he calls someone a swindler indirectly and tells Fat Babe Ruths to go get a 3B on the waiver wire. SHADIER THAN A WILLOW TREE.

8 MINUTES LATER. Clearly, the commish was not done. He comes back and tells us once again that we need to aim higher in returns if we want to sell guys like Cueto and Goldy. So basically, he’s saying we need to make sure we pass his standards in order to complete trades? That’s just me playing devil’s advocate though. To defend him, he is a good commissioner. The vetoes were getting out of hand, and he felt he needed to do something. I get that.

8:02 PM. Fat Babe Ruths is back. “Whatever, I’m done trying.” He’s done. It’s dinner time, so I’m sure he’s hungry. He says we need to have a more open discussion policy about trades moving forward. That’s exactly what the commish said in his initial post, but whatever. It’s late. “The current process isn’t working for me and I know it’s not working for others as well.” Fair enough. Can’t argue with that.

Ok, and we finally wrap it up with Team Toronto Maple Leafs at 10:50 AM the next day. Everyone has had a night to sleep on it. Maybe cooler heads have prevailed. Nope. Team Maple Leafs wants to suddenly talk about the Trout/Greinke-Donaldson trade now. He gives us a 3-year average of Donaldson vs. Trout to analyze. They are strangely similar except for the steals obviously. Regardless, he’s (rightly) saying that trade was not so egregious, there was no evidence of collusion, and it should have been accepted. He wants us to talk out the dissenting opinions on trades as well. He is now the third person to say that on the message boards. He then admits he autodrafted as well, which leads me to question how I’m not destroying these guys. That’s an article for another day though. He then leaves us with this gem…

“I don’t give a damn about the future. I want/need to win now, and if I can’t win, I need to compete now. I have zero tolerance for last place and in a dynasty league, I need to make things happen before I’m too far screwed this year. If you don’t agree with that statement, I also have no tolerance for you.”

This has me so jacked up right now I don’t know what to do with myself. I have that printed out on a poster and framed in my room already. Anyways, he lets us know he intends to play like a champion today and that Greinke should be on his roster. End of story. No one responds. How could you after that inspirational message, really? The debate is over. We’re all exhausted, and I am thoroughly entertained with how shady my leaguemates got on each other. Well done, league.

In the end, the trade was vetoed. However, Xi’an Foods and Fat Babe Ruths partly got their way later. A few days after all this, a trade was processed.

Xi’an Famous Foods GETS


Fat Babe Ruths GETS

Bregman & Urias

Cueto, Brinson, and Gray remained where they were. After all that, The Ruths got their 3B and are happily starting Han-Ram, Pujols, Bregman and Peraza. Xi’an is enjoying the fruits of Goldy’s hammer.

I hope you enjoyed this little peak into my league and the drama that ensued. It was a crazy two days, and none of us will ever be the same.

Jake is an NYC based actor who loves to put off daily responsibilities by writing and researching about all things fantasy baseball and college football. He is a life long Auburn Tigers fan, and yes, he does have the same SEC bias as ESPN. Most days, he can be found reminiscing about the 1990s Braves teams or complaining about their rebuild. Auburn 26 Alabama 14. #WDE

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