Starting the Trading Process
The title reflects something of a misnomer given the large variance in possibilities for this activity.   The trading process can last a mere 10 minutes or encompass days, even weeks of hard work and negotiation.


All trades, however, have similar properties or characteristics, many of which reflect actual tenets or aspects of standard contract law.


The initial phase of the trading process involves an “offer” of a player exchange between two or more parties.   The amount of clarity and precision in the offer influences the course of subsequent actions or negotiations as heavily, if not more, than secondary or external factors.  


Most “offers” appear as concrete or open-ended forms.


“Manager A makes an offer of X for Y to Manager B.”


This is a simple, straightforward trade involving two players, or a grouping of players with equivalent or similar values.   As a “concrete” proposal, both managers understand the terms of the trade, alleviating any potential difficulties with perception and communication.  Manager B has the option of accepting the trade based on the original terms or modifying the particulars and conditions.


The open-ended “offer” automatically introduces the element of consideration in to the negotiation process.  


“Manager A makes an offer of X for an unknown quantity to Manager B.”


Manager B has a great amount of freedom in this area, potentially offering a return value not suitable to the first manager, even completely changing the scope or terms of the original offer.


This second form of a trade offer typically places the initiating manager at a great disadvantage.   The manager no longer controls the direction of the discussion or the perimeters of its content.  The negotiation process, then, requires much discussion and effort in obtaining the best possible value for your players.


Dangers of the First Offer
In essence, however, any manager making the initial trade offer places his team at a disadvantage in the negotiation process.  As all trades establish a foundation for “value” involving the player exchange, discounting individual preferences or inclinations, the first party establishes the boundaries or limitations on future discussions.


Under contract law, generally speaking, any offer must contain elements of fairness and/or equity for both parties.  Fantasy or simulation leagues do not operate under such considerations, meaning that managers do not necessarily take the health, stability, or condition of opposing teams into account when pursuing trading activities.


Creating offers containing mutually beneficial returns diminishes these instances, though never completely.   At the same time, creating offers that overstate matters, asking for more than anticipated or desired, help maintain some form of advantage in the discussions.   The second party will set the true value of the players involved based on his response or counteroffer.


Using a Laundry List
Many owners compile a list of players eligible for trading and send a list to their league members.   The question of timing remains a key element in the success of this measure.  


Issuing a laundry list before a draft may or may not interest other managers depending on player availability in the draft pool.  


A laundry list in the early stages of a season may not interest anyone, though placing names in the general consciousness of a league certainly may help stimulate discussions at a future date.


Using a laundry list near a trading deadline serves as a good idea, particularly if the individual names contain some value to those pursuing visions of post-season success.


A laundry list offers two advantages.   You can allow other managers to set the “value” level of a trade, allowing you the benefit of making any modifications during the negotiation process.  


You may have two or three owners bidding on a certain player or group of players.   This provides greater flexibility in making decisions, not to mention ascertaining the best value for your players.

Whenever possible, allow opposing managers the luxury of making the initial offer as it provides a greater sense of control and security in the negotiation process.   Set a false or slightly inflated value level in instances where you initiate the proceedings.  This action forces the opposing manager to define the boundaries of the discussion.