The Worst Deal Of The Trade Period… For Everyone Else

The fallout from the 2022 AFL Trade Period will last a while – teams have invested in players and future draft picks to the point where the true winners of the period (Geelong aside – they won huge) may not be revealed until a few years from now.

However, it is always a little easier to pick the bad deals, and in this period, we had a few.

People will gravitate toward the deal that sent Jack Bowes and pick seven in the 2022 National Draft to Geelong for a future third-round pick. It was highway robbery. Really, no matter which way you look at that deal, it is pretty difficult to defend for the Suns. You could argue that Bowes’ back-ended deal forced the Suns’ hand, but correct me if I’m wrong – it was the Suns initiating the terms of that deal and making adjustments along the way in order to accommodate other players’ wants and needs. Bowes was left out in the cold after doing everything he could to help the club.

It was a shocker, and it is pretty difficult to paint Gold Coast as doing the right thing, here.

However, it pales in comparison to the deal that saw Brodie Grundy join Melbourne for pick 27.

Let’s get one thing straight – the Demons really got away with one, here. The Pies, through financial mismanagement on their part, were put in a situation where they had to cut costs in order to accommodate the wants and needs of current and incoming players. Grundy went from being indispensable a couple of years back to being perceived as the collateral damage of 2022 trade period.

The Pies wanted Daniel McStay to help Brody Mihocek and Jamie Elliott up forward, and they got him.

They had to move Grundy to do so and were compensated with Pick 27 as a result.

A paltry second-rounder was the accepted compensation for one of the best ruckmen in the game and a dual All-Australian who is just 28 and has plenty of good footy ahead of him. This man was the best ruckman in the competition as recently as 2019, and whilst his 2022 was ruined by injury, the potential for him to bounce back at Melbourne is huge.

And this is where the problems could really begin.

In offloading Grundy for such a minuscule return, not only did the Pies weaken their ruck division – and yes, I realise that Darcy Cameron has made significant strides this year- they have also strengthened another of the contenders in 2023 by affording them to best ruck dup in the competition since… hell, I can’t even remember when. In effect, they have weakened themselves and improved a rival.

It is a boneheaded, insular move, to say the least, yet we’re not hearing much about it.

Winning wallpapers over a lot of cracks, doesn’t it? The Pies got on a roll in 2022 and strung together an impressive streak that led them to the finals. They maintained the rage there, coming within a kick of making the Grand Final and proving many of the doubters that wrote them off to be incorrect.

But one season in the sun does not mean the great run will continue. Those narrow wins, impressive as they were, could have yielded very different results but for a wayward kick or a better defensive setup, and after another season of having to offload players to remain within the salary cap, the Magpies could be viewed very differently.

Winning … wallpaper… cracks.

Melbourne are 12 months, give or take, from lifting the premiership cup, themselves. They fell apart in the second half of the year and will be looking to regroup for another tilt at the flag in 2023. Collingwood, by virtue of their poor management f the salary cap, gave them a huge leg-up in the process. How this is not being more scrutinised beggars belief.

There was a bit of chatter around this morning that Geelong held off on dealing Esava Ratugolea to Port Adelaide because they did not want to afford Port, who the Cats view as a potential 2023 contender, anything that made them a stronger unit. Whilst you could argue (to me, anyway) that giving them Ratugolea would have made the Power weaker, Geelong seems to have their head on straight. By withholding a piece that Port wanted, they make them a little weaker. By ensuring their rivals are weaker, it gives Geelong a better foundation to launch from as they defend their premiership.

Whether this is true or not, it is a sensible and strategic manner in which to view trade period. It takes in the big picture.

This way of thinking is obviously not employed at Collingwood.

At some point in the 2023 season, we will find out whether this move by the Pies tips to one side or the other of the line between bravery and stupidity. Whilst we all understand that resting on their laurels and believing that relative success in 2022 will translate to the same in 2023 is misguided, there is the chance that the move they made to push Grundy out the door could come back and bite them with a vengeance.

So, as we analyse the poor moves of the off-season, the long-term concern would be how badly Geelong fleeced Gold Coast. So much of that deal depends on who they draft with the number seven pick and how the kid develops over the next few years – it’s a long-game approach to assessing the magnitude of that deal. The immediate concern revolves around the deal to send Grundy to Melbourne and the implications that could have as soon as next season.

If the Dees ascend to the top of the AFL again, I reckon the Pies might be right up there on their Christmas Card list in 2023.

The wallpaper in this case is that the Pies were able to use pick 25 (acquired from the Cats) to secure a Brownlow Medallist and stay in the second-round draft mix – more to come on that boneheaded deal, as well.



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