Carlisle – St Kilda and Essendon get fair value, Sydney leave heads scratching #afltrades

An earlier version of this post assigned the loss of pick 44 to St Kilda and saw the trade as a bigger win for Essendon than it really was. This post has now been corrected and re-written.

St Kilda and Essendon leave the table happy while the Swans confuse us by giving Bird away for nothing.

St Kilda value in: 2670 points (Jake Carlisle – 1600 points, Pick 14 (1070 points). Value out: 2530 points (pick 5 – 1600 points, pick 24 – 930 points). Total = +140 points.

Essendon value in: 3491 points (Craig Bird – 961 points, Pick 5 – 1600 points, pick 24 – 930 points). Value out: 3280 points (Jake Carlisle – 1600 points, Pick 23  – 940 points, pick 44 – 740 points). Total = +211 points.

Sydney value in: 1680 points (Pick 23  – 940 points, Pick 44 – 740 points). Value out: 2031 points (Craig Bird – 961 points, pick 14 – 1070 points). Total = -351 points

Verdict: Fair trade all around. Slightly more in Essendon and St Kilda’s favour with them both gaining 1.06 points for every point given up. Nominally fair to Sydney but a weird move for Sydney given the academy bidding system.

We earlier rated Carlisle as worth exactly pick 5. As it turns out, our valuation of this trade isn’t too far off that, but St Kilda have given up closer to the value of pick 9. Giving up picks 5 and 24 and getting back pick 14 for him, netting out to a sacrifice of 1460 points. If they had traded 5 for Carlisle they’d have had a shot at the draft with picks 24 rather than 14. They wanted to stay in the first round and done so, have ending up 10 picks better off than the straight trade for 5.

For Essendon, they’ve basically managed to get Bird and pick 5 for Carlisle and 44, essentially getting Bird as free extra value. Bird is 26, has an output of about 16.7 games per year, and works out to 961 points or about pick 21 on his own. He also has significant upside, as he fell out of favour at Sydney due to its midfield depth and is capable of playing more games than projected. This trade is a win for Essendon, who get the pick 5 they sought as well as a low risk role-playing midfielder for essentially pick 44.

For Sydney, the trade is very strange. It will be noted that we value the swap of 14 for 23 and 44 as more valuable to the side gaining the two picks (1680 points in versus 1070 points). This would be the case, based on past draft pick outputs, if the Swans were to use those as live picks. We would back the output of picks 23 plus 44 over pick 14 in the long run. Instead, Sydney will commit these picks to matching a high bid for Callum Mills. For that purpose, picks 23 and 44 are only worth 16 points more than pick 14 – effectively breakeven (1161 vs 1177).

In gaining 16 bid-matching points (ie virtually nothing), the Swans have essentially given Craig Bird away for free in exchange for splitting their points across two picks. Clearly they needed him gone, most likely for cap space reasons or just to be kind to a premiership player who isn’t in their future plans (Sydney have a recent history of trading fringe players for very little).

However, the question remains – assuming Bird had to go, was there really nobody else who would pay more for him in a direct swap? He is a 26 year old established midfielder with a track record of good footy in a good team. We think he’s worth pick 21. Surely some club thinks he’s worth something.

Bird didn’t specifically request Essendon, he only signed off on the move today. Did the Swans have an interest in ensuring Carlisle went to St Kilda and not Hawthorn? Is there some reason for the Swans to particularly want to split their bid-matching points across more picks? At this stage, it is unclear.

To sum up – Essendon and St Kilda have achieved what they wanted and gained slight value over the straight swap of 5 for Carlisle which we earlier rated as fair. This has occurred at the expense of Sydney who due to the need to meet academy bids rather than use the picks directly in the live draft, are giving Bird away for nothing.

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