Team 1 begins by going to Team 2 and offers X for Y.

Team 2 counters by saying, I don't think X is as valuable as Y, so I want X and Z for Y. That would be a "two for one."

Team 1 says, I don't want to give you a whole "extra" player, but if you trade me Y for X, which works in my favor, I'll offer you A for B, which works in yours. Now it's "two for two."

So if team 2 agrees that the "package" X+A = the Y+B "package" (and both sides get what they want), the deal gets done.

Is that how a "multiplayer" dialog might go or are there other routes?

(An example was Sean Burnett and Nyger Morgan for Joel Hanrahan and Lastings Milledge between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Nationals some years ago, from my own piece: (I'm not referring to a veterans for prospects trade, that's a separate question.)

  • well...for one thing, straight up swaps are rare. Usually teams trade Major league talent for prospects
    – wax eagle
    Jul 21, 2014 at 15:03
  • You'll want to specify then I think. As most trades this time of year are not going to be ML talent swaps
    – wax eagle
    Jul 21, 2014 at 15:07
  • @waxeagle: I was thinking of something like Hanrahan and Holt for Melancon et al. Or maybe a better example was Sean Burnett and Nyger Morgan for Joel Hanrahan and Lastings Milledge (from my own piece). bleacherreport.com/articles/… If it's a veterans for prospects trade, that's a separate question.
    – Tom Au
    Jul 21, 2014 at 15:19
  • Is this necessarily limited to baseball? As far as I'm aware, most major sports organizations use the same basic structure of drafts, minor leagues, major leagues, salary caps, trades, etc.
    – corsiKa
    Jul 21, 2014 at 18:56
  • @corsiKa: No. Please feel free to use any sport. My personal frame of reference is baseball, that's all. And so is the timing of my questions (right before July 31st).
    – Tom Au
    Jul 21, 2014 at 19:00

1 Answer 1


Teams will through various measures, create a list of players they would like to have, and a list of players they are willing to not have, and place a value on each of them. They will then open dialogue with other teams regarding who (from that second team) they might want, and who or what (players or cash) they are willing to provide. If it happens that both teams have multiple players from the other on their "wanted" list, and multiple players of each group are also on that team's "will give" list, then there is potential for a multi-player trade. Note that such players may be added to the "wanted" or "will give" lists after the dialogue opens, if further information becomes available (e.g. scouts didn't get enough observation of a player, or apparent value increases compared to actual value in the intervening time). The final step is determining the relative value of the players; Players A and B might have a collective value of 10 million money units while players X and Y have collective value of 11 million units. The first team may propose giving 1 million money units to top up the value, or allow Players A and B to be taken sooner (so that the second team gets 1 million money units worth of use from them before they give up Players X and Y).

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