I have a confession to make; with a few choice exceptions, I don’t understand humungous eight-, 10- or 12-player trades. I don’t want to paint these moves with a broad brush, but often times it seems like the owners involved in these trades are trading just to trade. A few weeks ago, in my admittedly lowest caliber league, the following trade went down:
Team A gave up:
to acquire, from Team B:
My first three reactions to seeing this were, in order: What the hell is going on here?; I think Team B got taken; and I’m really tempted to make a post on the message boards asking each owner to explain, in detail, why each thinks this was a good trade in the context of their own teams and the overarching strategy behind making the deal.
I mean, how do you even evaluate trades of this size with so many high-quality players involved? Is there really a point to putting Cliff Lee in an 11-player deal that nets you back Halladay? If Team A took Lee out of the deal and Team B took Halladay out, would the teams all of a sudden not be agreeable to the swap? I understand that there is a difference in value between the two, but it just seems kind of unnecessary.
When attempting to evaluate trades like this, I find myself trying to group either similar players or shared positions and either identifying relative advantages or canceling out whole portions of the trade like I’m crossing out long terms in an equation. So, here I’d start by saying that I’d rather have Lee and Weaver than Halladay and Rodriguez, for example. But, this is where it gets messy. How heavy is that advantage; how evenly matched does the rest of the trade have to be for me to be want to make the trade? It seems like the tendency in evaluating deals like this is to round off value – these three pieces are basically equal in value, basically being the key word.
I’m not going to spend a whole paragraph waxing philosophical about why people engage in these massive trades. To be sure, some are well thought out and sensible when subjected to scrutiny and others are whimsical and indicative of an owner’s desires for novelty.
The piece of practical advice I’d like to give is that the more players involved in a deal, the harder it is for an owner to properly evaluate it. So, perhaps it’s worth it to try this tactic to attempt to fleece others.