Highly Custom League: Public Trade Negotiations

Welcome back to the Highly Custom League series. Today marks the seventh installment, one that was teased in the comments of the last post. It’s Public Trade Negotiations! Previous entries covered 2×2 Roto, Split Auctions, Roto-to-HeadRotating DivisionsWAR wars, and Category Wars.

Design Aesthetic


Unlike past custom leagues posts, this one isn’t about changing the fundamentals of categories, drafting, prizes, or positions. Do whatever you want with those. Instead, the focus is to turn trading into a public spectacle.

This is a fantastic setting for leagues with uneven ownership quality. If a few top performers consistently pick upon the also-rans, this rule is for you! It’s also ideal for unusual formats that produce strange-looking trades. A lot of keeper formats fall into this bucket as do several of the aforementioned custom leagues.

It’s pretty simple too. The following parameters are meant as an example. They can be tweaked according to your whims.

Once a trade is reached, it’s immediately up for a 48-hour rebuttal period. Every other owner may submit their own counteroffers. The original two parties may continue to negotiate as well. From here, there are a few ways this can play out.

Execute Trade

If Teams A and B prefer the original agreement to all counteroffers, they’ll execute the trade. Alternatively, if they receive NO counteroffers, they would be compelled to make the trade. This is to prevent teams from entering into dummy trades.

Accept New Trade

If either Team A, B, or both receive a better offer, they can accept it and rescind the original offer. I’m calling these “replacement trades.” At this stage, there are some league design considerations to, uh, consider.

Option #1 is to immediately execute new offers upon acceptance. In essence, once an initial trade is announced, all owners involved are working with final binding bids. There’s no safety net if you overbid to prevent the original deal from going through.

A strength of this first option is that trades resolve quickly. A weakness is that uneven replacement trades can’t be disputed via the same mechanism.

Option #2 is to make this process iterative. Basically, it starts over every time a new trade is agreed upon. For example, Teams A and B agree to a trade. Team B accepts a new offer from Team C. Team C accepts a new offer from Team D. Team E jumps in… So on and so forth.

On the upshot, every trade is price enforceable. Unfortunately, the process could become drawn out. It’s also easier to pull off shenanigans. You may opt to reduce the bidding time to 24 hours to help speed things along.

Additional Considerations

Beyond the basic mechanics, a few issues need to be addressed. Although the rule itself is simple, the execution of it is not.

First, what does it mean for a a team to accept a new offer? Let’s say Team A traded Rhys Hoskins for Team B’s Blake Snell. Several owners then make new offers to Team B. Team C offers Andrew Benintendi for Snell. Team D offers George Springer for Mike Clevinger.

In all cases, we have an “outfielder” offered for a good pitcher. However, Team D chose to move a tier down the rankings sheet from Snell. Do only offers for Snell count? Must offers involve only Snell i.e. the exact package originally traded? Can similar trades like the Clevinger scenario count? When is a trade too dissimilar to count?

Because this gets confusing rather quickly, I recommend setting the rules such that deals cannot expand. However, I believe it to be more reasonable to have trades become smaller. For example, Team B traded Snell and Clevinger for Christian Yelich then later decided Snell for Benintendi was a better use of resources.

I think you can see, this part of the rule can get very sticky. As such, the most important part is to have things clearly explained in your league constitution. Yes, you definitely need a constitution if you’re using this rule. Any time an unforeseen situation arises, it should be included in the constitution along with the proscribed way to handle it.

A second issue is with execution. Even highly flexible platforms like FanTrax aren’t designed to handle this setting. As such, I recommend a process using a third party message service like Slack or Discord. Trades are posted to a league trade channel set to email all members. That starts the clock. After all the bidding is done, whoever won the trades execute them via your fantasy platform of choice.

The commissioner should prepare to be active with enforcing this rule including but not limited to manually executing trades.


Public Trade Negotiations is a complex setting. While there are plenty of benefits to turning trades into a pseudo-public bidding war, I could see some leagues going full Thunderdome. Or at least It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily! It’s up to you to judge if you have the right group of people.

Would you like to try this format? Take the poll!

We hoped you liked reading Highly Custom League: Public Trade Negotiations by Brad Johnson!

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I absolutely love this idea, but I don’t think I’d be able to get it voted in to my league for one specific reason – streamer trades. We’re a weekly H2H matchup league, so a lot of trades (especially for borderline stream-worthy pitchers) are made with instant gratification in mind. For instance, last season I traded Joey Lucchesi on some midseason Sunday for whoever was pitching against the Tigers on that day so I could secure Ks and hopefully a W and QS against a top tier team. These types of trades are common and I doubt the league would be willing to get rid of them.