Despite their terrible defensive numbers in recent years, Melbourne found themselves entering the 2019 offseason with a logjam down back – especially with respect to taller defenders. With Lever and May penciled into two spots, and Hore, Hibberd, Oscar McDonald all fighting for one or two others, Sam Frost was seemingly the one destined to end up on the outer. This is despite despite playing every game in a season for the first time in his career.
Frost’s calling card is his foot speed and ability to break lines, which isn’t really a critical skill for a tall defender. According to AFL Stats Pro, Frost excelled when it came to gathering the ball on the deck, but struggled badly in one on one situations with a contested one on one loss rate of 36.4% (Lever was at 23% by comparison) and he turned the ball over a lot for a KPD on a per disposal rate. However, Frost is the source of more score launches than usual for a KPD, meaning that a lot of what he provides is feast or famine.
In short, his profile is that of a small, creative defender stuck in a KPD’s body. With Melbourne having a number of options able to fill the creative rebounding role already, there was no room for the odd hybrid defender that Frost represents.
Hawthorn shapes up as Frost’s third club, and another new start.
Note: This article is part of a series using a valuation method called Player Approximate Value (PAV) to evaluate trades for fairness and balance. Elsewhere, you can read much more about the method and theory behind PAV. You can also read about PAPLEY, the projection method used to derive expected future PAVs, which has been revised for 2019.
Frost turns 27 next year and his level of expected output makes him probably a fringe player. That suggests a trade value of a late second or early third round pick but in practice Melbourne have prioritised draft position over fair value and more or less given him away.
The picks without Frost himself pretty nearly cancel each other out, but Melbourne grab an extra pick in next year’s draft via Hawthorn’s second round pick, while giving up a slot at the back end of the current year’s draft. Melbourne have more moves to come in the trade period, so these picks may not be around when the draft comes around. Implicitly this suggests that Melbourne had no intention of keeping Frost and continuing to pay him.
For the Hawks, they get a player who may or may not actually fit into their first-choice defensive plans for 2020, but given his uniqueness, they may have him earmarked for a role that leans more on his strengths and less on his size. The fit of Frost in a backline with fellow ex-Dee Frawley, Sicily and Stratton (along with Mirra, Brand and others) is hard to picture, but at worst he is cheap depth.
The Hawks also get a bit more value in the current draft, perhaps aiming to match for their father-son prospect Finn Maginness.
Immediately, Frost is expected to give far more value than all the picks involved combined next year – if he finds the field. Even if he doesn’t, it’s a reasonable punt on a player who has featured in finals recently.
Verdict: Trade is weighted in favour of Hawthorn. Sam Frost’s projected future output is much greater than the difference between the picks, and he may contribute immediately.