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.
At HPN, a lot of what we do at this time of year centres around what “fair value” is, and how much a player or pick is expected to contribute for the rest of their careers.
Sometimes, the real world throws us a bone, and determines that a group of players are worth the same fairly token pick.
Perhaps the best example of this occured in 2012, when Lewis Stephenson, David Rodan and Cale Morton were all traded for pick 88, which went unused at draft time. The three players played 9, 9 and 3 games for their new clubs respectively – about in line with their low perceived value.
In 2019, the same pick has been used in rapid succession to facilitate the move of three talls of fairly contrasting backgrounds.
Let us go on a journey together, following the adventures of Melbourne’s future fourth round selection.
The pick used originated from the Sam Frost trade and is Melbourne’s future selection. That’s placed it around 56, but even if the Dees climb the ladder and it goes backwards, the projected value across the fourth round is pretty flat.
First up, Hawthorn swapped the Melbourne future fourth round pick to GWS in exchange for Jonathon Patton, a former number one draft pick. The hulking key position forward has averaged 11 games a season due to multiple season-ending ACL injuries, and did not play this year as a result of his latest.
Even when he played, Patton perhaps hasn’t yet lived up to his draft pick. In his best seasons he rated third and fourth at GWS for offensive value behind Greene, Cameron and also Steve Johnson in 2016. That was in a very good forwardline, but it’s worth noting how much Cameron makes players playing a supporting role look quite good as trade targets in a way that doesn’t see them becoming forward line stars at other clubs (see also: McCarthy, Boyd, Lobb).
So despite Patton’s number 1 draft pick and the obvious upside, there are certainly some serious question marks here.
Sam Jacobs has long been pretty serviceable at Adelaide, not spectacular but durable and workmanlike. At the age of 31 he has clearly surpassed by the breakout ruck Reilly O’Brien. This move could have happened via free agency, but GWS wanted to protect their Tomlinson compensation. Thus, the token swap of the pick GWS just secured for Patton.
GWS just lost Dawson Simpson to retirement, and beyond the emerging Briggs and Flynn, rely solely on Shane Mumford as their ruck division. The Giants clearly see this move as a cheap and easy way to maintain some sort of presence in ruck contests over the next year or two.
Billy Frampton at age 23 comes in to Adelaide from Port to replace Jacobs on the depth chart. Frampton took four years to debut and has never threatened the Port Adelaide ruck gig as they moved from Ryder to Lycett and Ladhams. He has virtually no exposed senior form to suggest he’s about to take the number 1 job, but playing in the SANFL means Adelaide have no doubt had a good look at him and likely see him as a serviceable spare.
This is one of several likely cases this trade period of depth rucks being traded from well back in the depth chart to being the primary backup elsewhere.
All three of these players have been implicitly rated as the same value in the trades despite their contrasting ages and backgrounds. Patton is clearly the most credentialed of the three but also has a terrible history of injury and enough exposed form to suggest maybe the early projections will never come to fruition. Jacobs is aged quality, Frampton is basically untried young depth.
The pick had the best projected value for all three players because all three project really marginally, based either on age or prior output.
Verdict: Token swaps all round due to low player projections, all swaps notionally weighted in favour of the late pick. Patton likely has the biggest upside beyond his projection despite his risks.