HPN will attack this AFL Trade Period in one post a day. Check back here each day to get our take on the “action”.
Today was quite possibly one of the biggest non-deadline days in trade period history. The biggest trade so far in V/AFL history (in terms of volume and value) took place, as well as the deal involving the most valuable player likely to change hands this year.
HPN will tackle the MEGATRADE in a standalone post shortly.
Toby Bedford beds down at GWS
One of the key functions of the trade period is to get players to clubs where they will play senior footy. Toby Bedford’s move to GWS fits this bill. The Melbourne “super sub” is credited with 16 games this year but in only in 6 was he in the starting 22.
He played twice as a substitute and did not play at all in 8 other games, credited with the games purely due to the AFLPA insisting substitutes be credited with games for purposes such as payments, future life membership, or contract triggers.
Bedford is a pressure small forward, with over six tackles a game at VFL level and a goal a game in both VFL and AFL level this year. He was simply stuck behind the likes of Kysaiah Pickett, Alex Neal-Bullen and Charlie Spargo. There was no immediate prospect of Bedford jumping ahead of these players, as much as fans liked the look of him at times. Kade Chandler and Jake Melksham were also in the mix, and despite Bedford’s promise he was firmly stuck down at Casey.
GWS, on the other hand, have just lost their best player in this position in Bobby Hill and really have few others to compete with Bedford at the senior level. In reality, their depth here is just Bedford and Brent Daniels.
The Giants in recent times have often used their glut of developing midfielders such as Tanner Bruhn in their forward line, with modest results. In short, Bedford likely has a spot in the best Giants side and if he plays senior footy, the trade is a success for him and the trade system in general.
The swap of pick 44, to be used by Melbourne in the subsequent Luke Jackson trade, is more than fair recompense for a player Melbourne just were not using much. Bedford’s projection off limited games is low, so if GWS get immediate senior footy from him, he’ll easily outperform projections at Melbourne.
Given the form of Bedford at VFL level, combined with the flashes he has shown in the AFL, it’s a pretty decent gamble by GWS. That’s before considering that GWS were likely not to use the pick traded (and the low value of 2022 picks).
Verdict: Unfair trade. Melbourne get ample return for a player outside their best 22. GWS won’t mind the apparent overpay.
Luke Jackson to start wearing purple
Former pick 3 ruck Luke Jackson heads back to Western Australia to take up duties at Fremantle, seen as a potential game changer for them as they piece together their various talls into a coherent whole. The word “unicorn” has been floated with Jackson, with the West Australian’s athleticism and ball playing ability drawing fans across the league.
Already Fremantle have mentioned his potential to go in the ruck, up forward, play as a big bodied mid and even as a key position defender. Fremantle sees the potential for Jackson as near limitless.
At Melbourne, Jackson was the number 2 ruck alongside Max Gawn, occasionally playing a key role in passages of play such as the centre clearance burst which won the 2021 Grand Final. He has so far demonstrated excellent ball skills for a big man, but perhaps not quite dominated aerially, as of yet. Of the top 20 players for ruck contests this year, Jackson had the second lowest hitout win rate and the second fewest hitouts to advantage.
It’s also very much worth mentioning that he was the youngest ruck in that top 20 – and is playing AFL footy in one of the most physically demanding roles at a very young age.
Jackson will not be required to serve as primary ruck as long as Sean Darcy is fit, which should mean plenty of time to hone the other aspects of his game. He’ll also have other talls around him, such as Matt Taberner up forward, along with some mix of Jye Amiss and Josh Treacy or even a forward-focused Nat Fyfe. It remains to be seen if Rory Lobb or Lloyd Meek will also be there, but even if not, there’s plenty of pieces to structure around.
This speaks to the only slight qualm on Fremantle’s side – his best role. Plenty of players have floating in and out of AFL ranks without ever finding a firm job to call their own. Jackson is just 21, and has already shown his ability to play at AFL level, so the risk of this happening to him is pretty small.
Whatever his precise role, Jackson’s quality is unquestioned. The sum of his various attributes, however, mean he may always be a player about whom there’s debate as to his best use. It’s a good dilemma for Fremantle to have.
For Melbourne, they are clearly backing in Max Gawn for some time to come, locked in for 3 more seasons in his current contract. The question then becomes one of ruck partnerships and backups around him.
There are currently no other rucks on Melbourne’s list. They’ll reportedly start to answer this question with the mooted trade of Brodie Grundy in the short term. That will likely improve their ruck ranks in the short term despite the departure of Jackson.
In the longer run, investing heavily in two of the best rucks in the league means it’s easy to imagine stretches where the Dees need a couple more very cheap options to plug gaps left by injury and workload. Look for them to be in the market for replacement level rookie list ruck options between now and the mid-season draft next year.
The trade itself sees Melbourne bring in three good draft picks for Jackson, both this year’s and next year’s Fremantle first rounders and then the Fremantle second rounder. The Dees didn’t previously have a pick in the first round, so this gives them some presence at the pointy end of the draft, either to use or on-trade.
Jackson’s projection is for a solid decade of very valuable football, and as HPN showed at the ABC last week, he’s about equal to pick 2 in terms of total future expected output. This is a blockbuster deal and both sides have balanced their pick swap carefully against what Jackson can provide.
Verdict: Fair trade. One of the headline trades this year admirably balances the big pieces moving both ways.
Will Setterfield goes to Essendon for a better chance of regular footy
In 2018, after two games in two years in a deeply inauspicious start to his career, former pick 4 Will Setterfield was traded from GWS to Carlton at a price that clearly valued the tall midfielder’s junior potential more than the injury riddled start to his AFL careers. He was seen as carrying plenty of upside, and the trade gave him the benefit of the doubt.
As such, the wooden spooner Carlton swapped two picks which together valued him as a first round selection. The centrepiece early second future eventually ended up being used in two live trades before eventually netting the Swans Will Gould.
Fast forward to 2022, and after some pretty solid footy in his first few seasons at Carlton including playing 16 of 17 games in 2020, Will Setterfield finds himself on the move again, pushed out of first choice midfield duties by Carlton’s physically powerful midfield brigade.
Since Setterfield was recruited before 2019, Carlton have brought in Adam Cerra and George Hewett, and seen the emergence of Sam Walsh. They’ve more or less completely overhauled their midfield core from 2020 when Ed Curnow, Will Setterfield and latter career Marc Murphy were among the support players around superstar Patrick Cripps. That midfield group saw Carlton reach their best ladder position since 2013, but the club has rejigged and changed coaches since then.
Setterfield managed 13 games this year, mostly due to injuries to players such as Hewett and Matthew Kennedy, slotting in from the lower reaches of the depth chart.
For Essendon, their list much more in flux, Setterfield profiles as a low risk option to get some size into their midfield. Essendon’s largest primary midfielder in 2022, Jye Caldwell, is just 183cm. The larger 192cm Setterfield may add some much needed hardness and grunt to a pretty fast and attacking group, where previously the ruck Sam Draper and cameos from Jake Stringer were the main sources of raw physicality.
In short, Setterfield is a player who can bully the opposition, and he is available at a very friendly price of potentially less than nothing.
This trade reads as a favour to Setterfield and potentially a clearing of salary cap, as he walks to Essendon at a price that suggests he may not have even been offered a new contract in 2023. Pick 68 is Carlton’s fourth rounder, and Essendon’s future 4th is rated at pick 60 or so (due to two North Melbourne compensation picks already inserted into next year’s draft). If the Dons climb the ladder to the fringe of finals, the net exchange of picks could wind up valuing Setterfield at less than nothing.
Verdict: Unfair trade favours Essendon and could even end up implicitly valuing Setterfield at less than zero.
Izak Rankine trades South East Queensland for South Australia
A few years ago there was a brief movement amongst South Australian clubs to be “Tankin for Rankine”. In the 2022 Trade Period, Rankine has arrived at the Crows without the need for tanking – although it probably helped his old club part ways with the young star.
At this stage of his career, Izak Rankine has largely lived up to expectations of his draft pick. He’s a dynamic smaller forward, and has shown flashes of dominating in forward 50 stoppages. He’s not a unicorn like Jackson, but there may be some potential for him to pinch hit further up the ground. He is electric with ball in hand, and seems to be able to read the play better than almost any defender he is on. While some have stated that he sometimes floats in and out of games, that’s part of the life for secondary forward targets at clubs outside the eight.
The Crows have allegedly pried Rankine out of the Gold Coast with, by many reports a substantial increase in pay, the Crows have offered up trade returns commensurate with Rankine’s future projection.
Currently grappling with the problems caused by past large contracts, the Suns will have carefully considered what exactly they felt able to offer Rankine and the answer appears to have been a fair bit less than Adelaide. Some reports place the difference at about 30%. Part of the consideration would have been how replaceable their best small forward was with ready-made alternatives. The Suns have several of these, and will back those in to give them a portion of what Rankine does, albeit not as strongly.
The Crows also have some depth in their smaller forward ranks, with Rankine joining Josh Rachele and Shane McAdam in first team contention, with Ned McHenry and James Rowe there as depth. As such, Rankine doesn’t fill a desperate position need for the rebuilding Crows.
Rankine and Rachele in particular give them a very potent pairing for years to come. While highly talented smalls are probably not essential to a club performing at a high level, a creative pairing like this has the potential to impart a potent and recognisable style to the Crows, and to simplify the process of constructing other parts of their offence.
The trade centres around pick 5, which will likely become pick 6 on the night and is right around the mark which best matches the 22 year old Rankine’s projected future returns.
The rest of the swap moves a Suns third rounder into next year, adding the Crows’ future third rounder to the Suns’ substantial 2023 pick stockpile, and then swaps Fremantle’s future fourth for Adelaide’s, probably but not certainly an upgrade for Gold Coast
The pick coming the other way gives the Crows another shot at the draft later this year, currently their second selection pending a mooted Billy Frampton move.
Verdict: A pretty fair trade.
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 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.