How do you make a deal with bottom-of-the-barrel teams?

After recently discussing the current trading landscape with Scott White of CBS Sports, which led to this article, I decided to look at a big-picture concept of the trade market this week.

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With just over two weeks remaining until the default Yahoo trade deadline, managers who want to make major changes to their roster are running out of time. Most teams fall into three pockets at this point in the season:

1. Contenders: These teams are in the upper echelon of their standings, either leading the way or within striking distance of the top spot. In head-to-head formats, these are the teams with a good chance of securing a playoff spot.

2. Pretenders: These teams aren’t out of the race, but they will need many things to break right if they are going to catch up. Managers of these teams must make aggressive transactions in hopes of catching lightning in a bottle.

3. Playing for pride: These teams have no chance of winning a title this year. When people say, “No one remembers who finished fifth,” they are wrong. The person who finished fifth remembers that they didn’t finish near the bottom of the standings.

You’ll notice that I didn’t include a category for managers who have given up. Those who quit halfway through the season are my pet peeve in fantasy sports. Whether they realize it or not, they impact the league by their lack of participation. These managers make the waiver wire a less competitive arena, and they allow certain teams to get an unfair advantage by beating them in head-to-head matchups or surpassing them in specific roto categories.

To summarize, dead teams are bad, and we want to do everything we can to avoid having them in our leagues.

At this point, I’ve taken the scenic route to one of the most controversial trade-related topics each summer in fantasy baseball: Should teams at the bottom of the standings make trades?

In this writer’s opinion, the answer is unequivocally, YES.

Low-standing teams — don’t give up!

We want managers to try to improve their teams throughout the season. To make that happen, they need to have all avenues open to them, one of which is trading. I’ve heard the naysayers for years, who say that the bottom-feeders shouldn’t impact the race at the top by making trades with successful teams. And that the clubs battling for first place shouldn’t make summer trade offers to those near the bottom. I’m here to tell you that all those theories are a big pile of bologna.

The last-place teams are going to impact the standings one way or another. They might as well go down swinging.

Now that I’ve established the theory that all teams can and should participate in trade talks until the deadline, I need to elaborate on some etiquette for this type of deal. We can assume that teams at the bottom of the standings are unlikely to be the ones sending out trade offers. Trade talks are usually initiated by the manager who has the most to gain; in this case, that’s the manager chasing a championship. Managers who send offers to bottom-feeder teams need to put in the time to follow these two rules:

1. The offer needs to be fair. I’m not saying that the trade must be completely even. After all, the fairness of a trade is always a matter of opinion. But the offer must be similar enough in overall value that it is defensible. As a rule of practice, decide if you would send a similar offer to someone near the top of your league before sending the offer. If the answer is “No”, you are probably trying to take advantage of someone who may play this game poorly.

2. The offer needs to help both teams. The manager with the higher spot in the standings should take the time to assess the other team’s roster and ensure that the deal makes sense for both sides. The trade could address a weak area on the other team’s roster, or it may offer them a clear path to moving up in a roto category. But in some way, there needs to be a reason for the lower-ranked team to accept the trade.

Ethical trading with bottom-feeder teams is part of being an outstanding fantasy baseball manager. Although these teams haven’t had success overall, they undoubtedly have some players who are having solid seasons and could help the top teams in the league. Reaching out to these teams with trade offers could help to keep their managers engaged in the league for more weeks, which could also lead to increased waiver wire activity and a better league overall.

My challenge to you today is simple: Look at your standings and send out offers to at least two of the bottom-four teams in your league. And feel free to send your leaguemates the link to this article when they question you for trading with a bottom-feeder team.