Who won the Sam Mitchell trade?
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The big question
When news broke late last Tuesday night that Sam Mitchell was considering a move to West Coast, the AFL world was shocked. Things moved quickly from there as he confirmed the news in a radio interview the next morning and then the deal was done.
Mitchell won five best-and-fairest awards at Hawthorn, the last of which came this year, and yet he's headed west for little more than pick 88. It obviously seems like a steal for one of the best players in the league, but is that really the case?
This is a no-brainer. They paid next to nothing and have acquired the services of a soon-to-be Brownlow medallist (assuming the AFL Commission makes the right decision next month). Mitchell still has plenty to offer on the field, as evidenced by his B&F win and 16 Brownlow votes, and when he retires - whether that is at the end of next season or the year after - he will bring a lot of intellectual property across from the Hawks when he joins the coaching panel. With Matt Priddis, Luke Shuey, Andrew Gaff and Chris Masten running with him in the midfield, it is not like clubs are all of a sudden going to change tack and start sending a tagger Mitchell's way. He will have plenty of freedom to win his own footy and hit his targets, which we have become used to over the years.
Once Hawthorn were knocked out of the finals in straight sets, plans changed and changed quickly. It would have been better if the Hawks hadn't signed Mitchell to a one-year deal earlier in the year, in which case they would have received compensation from the AFL, but they still get what they want out of this deal. They freed up some cap space, which allowed them to sign Tom Mitchell and chase Jaeger O'Meara. On top of this, after North Melbourne's disastrous handling of Brent Harvey this year Hawthorn have laid the blueprint for how club greats can be moved on without leaving a bitter taste in anyone's mouth.
While it seems counter-intuitive to suggest that a club sending their reigning best-and-fairest winner away for practically nothing is a win, we are not going to declare the Hawks the loser here. This is a definite win-win situation. West Coast get a gun player for at least one more season, but Hawthorn freed up a ton of cap space with very little pain while helping Mitchell plan for life after his playing career. Now that the Hawks have lost Jordan Lewis, we are hearing they are considering building a war chest to try and sign Nat Fyfe or Dustin Martin next season. The other rumour doing the rounds is that Hawthorn are that far advanced with their succession planning that once Mitchell serves his coaching apprenticeship under Adam Simpson, he will be brought back to the Hawks to replace Alastair Clarkson when he is ready to retire.
Who do you think won the Sam Mitchell trade? Have your say in the comments below.
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