The Steals of the Season

Everyone wants to win at the trade table. For list managers, it becomes a bit of an ego trip – how can they get the best bang for the least amount of buck?

Well, some manage it. We’re nine rounds into the 2023 season and we’ve seen enough now to rate the off-season moves.

What I am focusing on are the ones that have been the steals of the off-season. Anything that has cost a first-round pick, or has a future first-round pick attached is off the table for discussion. That’s not a steal – you’re paying top dollar for that player. It also means no free agency signings or picking up a delisted player – that’s too easy. Plus, they’re free.

Let’s have a gander at the best results when it comes to finding diamonds in the rough this year.





The move cost the Bombers a 2023 fourth round pick and netted them pick 68 in the 2022 Draft and has to be considered one of the steals of the off-season.

Setterfield has slotted into the midfield of the Bombers, providing a combative presence that wasn’t really displayed during the last couple of years time at Carlton. The Blues seemed to play Setterfield more as a wingman/flanker during that time with the club, but Brad Scott has enjoyed using his recruit as more of an inside/outside presence.

He is +5.1 disposals on his 2022 numbers, +3.25 tackles, and has doubled his clearance work, as well. He has also been one of the Bombers to apply good defensive pressure at stoppages.



Acres was coming off some great footy for Freo and ended up costing the Blues just a future third round selection (2023) to pry him out of the west.

He has responded brilliantly after an early hiccup, taking his numbers from a career-high 21.70 disposals per game to 25.25.

Carlton had been running without a designated wingman for a while, but Acres immediately remedied that situation, combing with youngster, Ollie Hollands to provide a consistent presence on the outside.

His run through rounds 68 saw him post numbers of 36, 34, and 29 disposals, capping the most productive period of his career to date. Acres struck me as a player who was just pleased at having made it to the AFL through the first stages of his career, but his last season at Freo saw the penny drop and he has now elevated his game to be one of the more damaging two-way runners in the game.



A future third round pick was all it took to send the sometimes-troubled wingman from the Kennel to the Dees, and Simon Goodwin had to be licking his lips at the potential of running two elite wingmen in his 2023 team.

Teaming with Ed Langdon, Lachie Hunter has slotted into the Melbourne team as though he was born to play there. At over 20 touches per game, his run on the outside has eased the burden on Langdon, and in many ways, Hunter has been the standout of the pair.

Across the league, only the combination of Steele Sidebottom and Josh Daicos are better-performed as a duo. This was an astute acquisition from the Dees.



Basically, Hill moved to the Pies for a future second round selection and has immediately gone about elevating his game in black and white.

Averaging over a goal for the first time in his career (1.32), Hill has provided a spark inside 50 for the Pies and has elevated his pressure game, being one of five Magpies to average over a tackle per game inside 50 (1.11 – a career high).



Can you believe that Tom Mitchell did not have a first round pick involved in his trade?

A Brownlow Medallist, now averaging 26.22 touches per game in a fantastically-balanced midfield… and he was worth Cooper Stephens (yet to play a game), pick 41, and pick 50.

Add to that, the Hawks are still paying a sizeable chunk of Mitchell’s wages, and you have the undisputed king of the moves.

As a Hawks man, I am pretty disgusted with the entire situation, to be honest, but you’d be rapt if you were a Pies fan.



Rewind two years and tell the 2021 version of yourself that Brodie Grundy would be traded for pick 27 and the Magpies would pay some of his salary to sweeten the deal.

How hard would you laugh?

Well, quieten down, past you, because it damn well happened and Grundy headed to Melbourne to form a formidable ruck duo with Max Gawn. There was a time when these two were ranked one-two in the game at their position (that was 2018/19, from memory) and now here they are combining to wreak havoc on poor lone rucks.

The Dees see Grundy as a missing piece to another premiership puzzle, and with six goals to this stage of the season, Grundy has added another string to his bow. I’ve got Mitchell as the biggest steal, but Grundy for 27… we may see this deal reap its greatest rewards deep into September.



A lot of people questioned what Collingwood were doing when they picked up Frampton from the Crows for a future third round selection (2023), but after failing to impress at both South Australian clubs, Frampton got his chance when the Pies’ rucks, Darcy Cameron and Mason Cox, both went down injured.

Thrust into the number one ruck role, Billy played his ass off! Not only did he hold his own against Rowan Marshall, Sam Draper, and Reilly O’Brien, but he did some pretty impressive things in both the ruck and around the ground.

Seen as a hit in hope coming into the season, Frampton became the third Collingwood recruit to knock one out of the park in 2023, and looks to be another advertisement for players thinking about moving to Collingwood. They seem to know how to get the best out of players…


I’m sure there are others, and you are welcome to throw them out there for consideration. I’m sure Bomber fans like what the Weed is providing in the absence of Peter Wright, right? For me, both Mitchell and Grundy are the ones that have lived up to expectation, particularly with such a bargain-basement pricetag.

As for the best value from the others, I’d be interested to hear which ones you think have provided the most for the low price paid.



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