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Competitors hate to lose.

Champions won’t utter the word “lose” or its variants.

Teams with a losing record work toward the .500 mark.

If your Fantasy Baseball team sits at or near the bottom of the standings, it’s time to look toward the future, toward rebuilding your team for a successful 2016 campaign.

Keeper league trades can cause anxiety, but take a look at these tips to maximize your trade returns for your roster rebuild.

Keeper League Trades: Capitalize on the Playoff Bubble

Finding a worthy trade partner is difficult when your team has a losing record. Target teams on the playoff bubble. These owners want wins now to secure a playoff berth. Yes, you can wait until the offseason to make moves, but trade partners are not in the playoff hunt then. As a result, owners are more patient in the offseason when they aren’t chasing wins. Capitalize on their urgency right now. However, you do not need to ignite and extinguish your fire sale before the deadline. Making offseason trades during a rebuild has its merits, too. Keep in mind you’ll likely have to buy from the surpluses of your competitors, which can limit your options, so open the lines of communication with all owners immediately.

Who Should You Sell?

Simply put, owners who want to win now want players who will contribute right now. Duh. Players who have value to these owners include:

Reliable starting pitchers

Your desperate trade counterparts will take innings-eaters. Trade away your third- and fourth- tier starters: Lance Lynn and Edison Volquez come to mind; they’ll pitch six or more innings often, but don’t have the highest ceiling. Do not give up your whole staff. It’s imperative to have an “ace” or two in all formats.

Hot streaking players

Assess your opponents’ weaknesses and your unsustainable hot streaks. Make the most of your keeper league trades by selling your hot commodities. Randal Grichuk (.965 OPS, 16 RBI, 5 HR and 6 2B in the last 28 days) is a prime sell-high offensive threat. Ian Desmond could yield you a huge return (4 HR, 1.767 OPS, 5:4 K:BB in the last seven days), just be sure your middle infield has talent and/or depth.

High-strikeout relievers

Take your pick: Chapman, Kimbrel, Robertson, Betances, Miller, Davis, Jansen. You have little use for these pitchers, who all have K/9 of 10.55 or higher. You can probably package these closers in deals that get you up-and-coming starting pitching or middle infielders.

High profile players

Hanley Ramirez loses shortstop eligibility this offseason. He’s perfect to trade to a playoff-bubble-sitting team that needs help at the shallow position. Work hard to move players who won’t replicate their extraordinary 2015 season, like Mark Teixeria. His resurgent year (.294 ISO, .922 OPS at 35-years-old) offers owners the chance to get a big return.

These are volatile groups of players. So if you have a surplus in any of the four aforementioned categories, other owners probably have holes in them. Always sell from your surplus, which you should judge based on your league’s format.

Who Should You Buy?

When trading with win-hungry owners, you’ll be hard pressed to pry MLB talent from their hands. Prospects will be on the move in deep keeper leagues from now until the fantasy trade deadline. Buy prospects after you do your research, and target top-ranked players at shallower positions. In all formats, second base and shortstop are the shallowest. Starting pitching and the outfield is always shallower than I anticipate because of injury bugs. Depending on what you need, expect to acquire players in these categories:

Youth breaking into MLB or prospects whose track record you like

Yes, it’d be nice to have Carlos Correa, Kris Bryant or Mookie Betts, but they’re hyped enough for their owners to keep them. Look through minor league players’ careers and target players at shallower positions (2B, SS and P). Beware of sophomore slumps in 2016 if you’re targeting 2015 rookies in keeper league trades and do not give up too much proven MLB talent for players who have yet to contribute at the big-league level.

Pitchers who returned from Tommy John surgery this season

Jose Fernandez is an exception, here. Matt Harvey frustrates win-now teams with his command problems (2.23 BB/9, 1.15 HR/9). He’s a costly buy-low candidate, but a return in command—and hopefully physique—could push Harvey back to near elite status. Matt Moore has been unimpressive in his return so far (11:10 K:BB, 20 ER in 23.2 IP) and Patrick Corbin’s return has not been a total disaster (5 HR allowed in 22 IP, 23:3 K:BB).

Cold streaking players/ Underachievers

Look at splits of the last 14 days to see who’s frustrating their owners. Then, pounce.

Players who show signs of improvement and who are approaching their prime

Carlos Santana, Logan Forsythe and Johnny Giavotella have everyday roles and are all within two years of their age 30 season. Each shows signs of improvement in plate discipline and could break out next year, but at their floor these non-flashy players can contribute.

Last Tips for Keeper League Trades Near the Deadline

In deep leagues, make efforts to keep your elite players that constitute your core, unless you can get ungodly packages of players in return that simplify or eliminate future trades. Blockbuster trades are exciting, but names can obscure owners’ judgment, so be objective or contact So Called Fantasy Experts for help. If you’re ambitious and wise, you can sell solid contributors and buy loads of future talent. No matter how you approach keeper league trades, do your research, take few risks and improve your ball club. After all, you don’t want to be losing, be a loser or lose more than you win in 2016.

Digital Me

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