In 2018, Alex Witherden’s star was on the rise; somewhat literally. Coming off a third place in the Rising Star award, Witherden appeared locked into a spot in a team on the rise.
But as Brisbane marched up the ladder, Alex was left behind. The recruitment of Callum Ah Chee and Grant Birchall largely pushed him from the side, and he went from essential to edge.
PAPLEY is cautious on Witherden’s projected outlook due to his disappearance from the Lions side this year, as Birchall, Ah Chee and Brandon Starcevich became preferred options in that area.
Given his previous years, including a Rising Star third place finish, his demonstrated ceiling is high. The HPN Salary Prediction Tool has Witherden with likely more upside than the players who have kept him out of the side:
However, that upside comes with a salary cost, and similarly to the Aliir trade, it may be that Brisbane calculated that they can get slightly worse results from cheaper options than the current Witherden contract. It may also be that the recruitment of Daniher (and Cockatoo to a lesser degree) forced this kind of squeeze.
The appeal for West Coast here is simple, as with Shannon Hurn getting older, Witherden seems a readymade replacement mid-sized defender who can use the ball well. The Eagles’ controlled and precise style of game may suit Witherden by accentuating his best weapon, his precise kicking.
The trade surprisingly rates Brisbane as getting back more than enough value, due simply to Witherden’s lowered projection after being outside Brisbane’s best 22. The pick 58 and future third isn’t nothing, and at least bolsters Brisbane’s draft stocks a little.
Verdict: Appears a fair trade despite likely being a cap dump. However, Witherden’s youth and previous upside has the potential to make this swap look quite lopsided a decade from now.
Note: This post is part of a series of posts using a valuation method called Player Approximate Value (PAV) to evaluate trades for fairness and balance. Readers can explore these values with tools such as 5-year player value projection charts and a Salary Prediction tool as well as the HPN Trade Calculator to evaluate potential trades.
Elsewhere, read much more about the method and theory behind PAV. Expressing the value of players and picks in terms of expected future PAV provides a common currency for comparing them in trades and other movements. Players are projected using PAPLEY, a method to derive expected future PAVs.