Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
It will happen to you whether you are a fantasy player or have a friend who is in one...or you work with someone in a fantasy league.
Someone in your league will offer you a trade and you need to know how to evaluate it correctly. Or at some point, someone you know will walk up to you and say "Should I trade Manny Ramirez for Jose Reyes?"
You are tempted to say: A) Yes, B) No, C) I don't know, D) I don't care!
If you went with answer "D" this column is not for you. If you gave any other answer, I'm here to help you get it right. Unless the two or more players in the deal all play the same position, you have been given too little information to correctly evaluate a trade. That's why when you see the baseball and football pre-game shows and they quickly give an answer to a viewer, you know that the hosts are not "true" fantasy players.
In the case of the Ramirez for Reyes example, to give your friend or co-worker the correct answer you must ask the fantasy owner at least two more questions.
1) Is this a keeper league?
You ask this question because in a keeper league age becomes an issue. While Ramirez may play two or three more seasons, Reyes will be around for at least a decade.
In our example this is not a keeper league.
2) If you make this trade, who will replace Ramirez and who is your current shortstop?
You must ask question No.2 because despite the fact that the trade is a one-for-one offer, it effects you at TWO positions - shortstop and outfield. The correct way to evaluate the Ramirez-for-Reyes trade is: Will I improve enough at shortstop to make up for what I lose in Ramirez's outfield position?
And the answer to Question No.2 is dependent on who your friend's current shortstop is and who his best backup outfielder is.
Again, in our example, lets say your friend's current starting shortstop is Mike Aviles from Kansas City and he has a solid backup outfielder in Torii Hunter of the Angels.
Now you have enough information to give some reasonable advise.
To evaluate the trade you must determine whether Jose Reyes and Torii Hunter is a stronger combination than Manny Ramirez and Mike Aviles.
When you come up with the answer to this question, you have correctly evaluated the trade offer!