As HPN understands it, Collingwood see no future for Travis Cloke, don’t want to pay him any more, and are desperate to get rid of him. They are desperate to the extent that weakens their bargaining position with the Western Bulldogs substantially. We expect the resulting trade to be a lopsided undervaluation of Cloke’s future output.
The HPN formula assumes based on past record that Cloke will last about another 3.5 years and continue to be able to play the majority of games (16.7 a year) at AFL level. Right now we concede that this looks like an extremely ambitious assumption. The most obvious conclusion is that Cloke is one of those players who may have hit the wall younger than the average retirement age of 31 or elite retirement age of 32.4. Such players exist – the 31 is an average age, after all, which means players fall either side of it.
We’d suggest there isn’t much middle ground here – he will either play to around our estimated potential or disappear quickly into the VFL and never be seen again. The possibility of success must, however, be valued.
Cloke will be heading to a new club. He’ll be in a new environment, asked to play a new role as second-fiddle to Tom Boyd and probably Jake Stringer. He may be asked to focus on his contested marking higher up the ground, rather than just sit deep as a goalscorer. He should face less pressure at Whitten Oval, which may be important for a man who has had his share of performance-anxiety demons. Even the change of coach might help him.
None of this is certain, but there are reasons to think that the Bulldogs will find a use for Travis Cloke, and keep him at AFL level. As such, we think the reported offer by the Bulldogs of a pick past the 70 mark is probably underselling Cloke’s potential future output. Pick 75, on average, produces about 30 game careers. There’s a lot of busts when that pick is used live and it isn’t always used. Here’s how the trade looks:
The Bulldogs would expect to get about twice as much games output from Cloke as from pick 75. It may be that Collingwood don’t care, or can’t successfully bargain for a higher valuation of Cloke, but if they accept this they’ll be likely to lose this trade.
Pick 63, the Dogs’ third current pick (pending a Hamling and possibly Adams trade) would seem to be fairer price for Cloke.
Compared to pick 75, pick 63 is used live more often, and is expected to provide about one extra season’s worth of player output (that basically means it’s slightly likelier to yield something useful). This trade recognises that Collingwood won’t be expecting to achieve parity – the Bulldogs’pick 40 would also rate as fair but be tilted in Collingwood’s favour.
Verdict: Collingwood should try to hold out for pick 63, if they haven’t destroyed their bargaining power completely.