As the opening of the 2020 AFL trade period nears, the future has gotten clearer for some of the biggest names on the market, but remains murky for others.
Jesse Hogan has been the source of much speculation in recent weeks as Fremantle put his name up for trade despite the ex-Demon being contracted for another year at the Dockers.
We now know however that he will be playing for the GWS Giants in 2021, as both clubs confirmed on Monday that they had reached an agreement for Hogan to move to Sydney.
The exact details of the trade aren’t clear, but it appears the Dockers and Giants have the deal all but done and it wouldn’t surprise if it’s the first move made when trading opens on Wednesday.
WA journo Ryan Daniels – who was the first to speculate that Hogan might be on the move – has reported that Fremantle won’t be paying any of Hogan’s salary at GWS.
Instead Hogan’s contract will be effectively torn up and he is signing a two-year deal with the Giants (with a trigger for a third) that is heavily incentive-based.
While Fremantle will get Hogan’s salary off the books, they’re not expected to receive much in terms of trade capital – it may be as late as a third-round draft pick, where GWS currently hold picks 43 and 51.
Whatever the deal, it is certain to be a significant loss on the picks 6 and 23 that the Dockers paid to recruit Hogan two years ago, which were eventually used to draft Ben King and Tom Sparrow. Fremantle received pick 65 along with Hogan, which became Brett Bewley.
As such it strikes me as an odd deal move by the Dockers. They don’t seem to have much to lose by keeping Hogan, who played the last four games of the year and kicked four goals in Round 17.
The cap space is no doubt part of the appeal but one would assume, or perhaps hope, that a young team list like Fremantle’s isn’t facing a cap crunch either way. They haven’t been linked to any big-money acquisitions either.
Instead it seems more that Fremantle just don’t feel Hogan is part of their future – and, having made that decision, would rather move him on now and get a clean break than deal with the distraction of further speculation in 2021.
That may prove wise, but it also puts the Giants in the enviable position of having little to lose and everything to gain. They won’t lose much in money or draft picks but could get plenty of good footy out of 25-year-old Hogan.
History would suggest that players traded for late draft picks are more unlikely than likely to turn into winners, but Hogan is a player who has already shown elite form at AFL level and appears to have his body right. Perhaps the change of location will help him get back on track.
A key forward set to make a much smaller move distance-wise than Hogan’s journey from WA to NSW is Ben Brown, who has now formally requested a trade from North Melbourne to Melbourne.
The speculation from most is that it will be a fairly straightforward trade, with most in the media coming to a consensus that the Demons’ pick 25 should get it done.
If you want to know what I – as a North Melbourne fan – think of that, suffice to say my response would include words not pleasant enough to be printed here on The Roar.
But from the Dees’ perspective it looks like it could be a massive win. A mature key forward is arguably their biggest need – Brown will kick plenty of goals there and should also make it easier for Sam Weideman and Luke Jackson to continue their development.
I’d liken North’s negotiation tactics here to that of Homer Simpson selling Lurleen Lumpkin: “Before we negotiate, I have to tell you I’m desperate to unload Ben Brown, and I’ll accept any offer.”
Another club that seems to be putting themselves in the same position is Collingwood, whose already ugly separation with Adam Treloar grew moreso on Monday following some exchanges in the media.
Sam Edmund reported that Nathan Buckley had told Treloar in a phone conversation that “the senior core of the group didn’t want him around anymore”, and the news did not escape the Collingwood coach’s notice.
Buckley Tweeted that those words were “news to him”, and wrote “The constant rumour and innuendo is disrespectful to Adam, the club and our supporters.”
“Absolute fact”…news to me Sam.
The constant rumour and innuendo is disrespectful to Adam, the club and our supporters.
We’ll continue to communicate directly and sensitively with Adz and his management.
FYI, our leaders don’t sit on list management, it’s not their job.
— Nathan Buckley (@ncb_cfc) November 2, 2020
It’s the first time that anyone speaking on behalf of Collingwood has acknowledged the ongoing Treloar saga, the outcome of which remains as unclear as any narrative in the 2020 trade period.
While many Collingwood fans are glad to finally hear someone from the club fire back at the rumour and speculation, suffice to say that a trade played out on Twitter rarely enhances the reputations of those doing the talking.
We’ve seen footy clubs and journos find themselves at loggerheads during a trade period before and I have no doubt we’ll see it many times again.
I’m not here to tell you who’s right and wrong – I don’t know myself and as is always the case at this time of year, the exact source of the news is likely to remain clandestine.
What I will say is this: fans are often sceptical of footy journos, but they should be just as sceptical of news told to them by their footy clubs.
Journos want to sell papers and clubs want to sell memberships, the big difference is clubs do so by telling fans what they want to hear (which is easier to believe) and journos often don’t.
There’s enough examples of poor or lazy media work out there that any and all reports should be taken with a grain of salt. Just be sure to exercise the same caution when it comes to club statements – especially at this time of year.
In terms of a wider view on the Treloar saga, I thought this piece from Roarer Peter the Scribe summed up well the quizzical and poorly communicated situation that has developed.
Although Treloar wants to say at Collingwood it seems hard to believe that will happen – but the question of where he might wind up is equally difficult to puzzle out.
Tom Browne reported on Monday that Collingwood will likely need to pay part of Treloar’s salary and accept a second-round pick as the cost of moving him on – an attractive proposition for rival clubs.
But it’s said that if Treloar moves he wants to join a Victorian club in the premiership window, and there’s not many who fit that bill that would also have room to take on his contract at short notice.
For mine, St Kilda is the best fit. While arguably not yet at ‘premiership window’ status, they’re an up-and-coming team who are known to have money to spend.
They’ve made clear their desire to seek out A-grade talent for their midfield and Treloar is that, or at least as close to that as you’ll find on the market in 2020.
The only question there is whether they can or should bring him in alongside Brad Crouch, whose free agency offer is yet to receive a response from the Adelaide Crows.
How it will all play out we don’t yet know – but it appears certain that we are in for a dramatic trade period.