Player name: Hayden Ballantyne
Current club: Fremantle
Potential club: Despite having a year left on his contract, Ballantyne has expressed interest in exploring his options outside of Fremantle following their catastrophic 2016 campaign. Early speculation was rife that Ballantyne could join rival WA side West Coast, and with Fremantle in the market for Hawthorn’s Brad Hill and Giants’ forward Cam McCarthy, these two sides could also come into trade calculations for veteran small forward.
The original price: Fremantle selected mature-aged Ballantyne as a 21 year old with their second pick and 21st overall in the 2008 National Draft. This draft saw elite talent such as Beams (29), Hannebery (30), Motlop (39) and Sloane (44) all slide to bargain levels – with Luke Breust and Sam Jacobs also being picked up very late in the rookie draft.
The Good: At his best, Ballantyne is a dangerous small forward capable having a match-winning influence on a game. Despite two lean seasons – the ‘Eddie Betts Factor’ could come into play – a small forward enjoying a rejuvenation at a new club.
The Bad: Age. Ballantyne is 29 and has lost a yard of pace. At his age, he is unlikely to regain it which severely limits his impact in the forward line. Following his career-best haul of 49 goals in 2014, Ballantyne has managed to kick four goals in a match just twice since. His age also provides the limitation of only being a valuable commodity to a team with their premiership window open – ruling a line through half of the AFL sides, as there are only a handful of clubs who would benefit from Ballantyne’s addition.
What his club wants: Ross Lyon may play hardball with Ballantyne, towing the party line of “he is a required player under contract”. The reality of the situation is this – Ballantyne is 29, a Restricted Free Agent at the end of 2017 and most importantly, highly unlikely to be part of Fremantle’s next flag tilt. When push comes to shove, Fremantle will take a pick or appropriate player and move on.
What he’s worth: Not a lot. Rewind to 2014, and Ballantyne’s market value would have been at the pointy end of the second round coming off the back of a career best season. The post-2016 version of Ballantyne is a 29 year old that has managed 35 games for a paltry 41 goals. Ballantyne’s potential trade therefore would be an uncomplicated move, with the Dockers and his destination club likely to have similar valuations of the small forward.
What we’d pay: Pick 45-50
- West Coast trade their third round pick (48) to Fremantle for Hayden Ballantyne.
- Essendon trades their round three draft pick (37), Fremantle send Ballantyne and pick 57 to the Bombers.
The Verdict: Ballantyne’s best days are behind him, but he does still have a little to offer to the right club. At 29 he isn’t completely finished and could be rejuvenated at a new home both on and off field by providing experience to developing young forwards. His value to the Dockers is low, and with a rebuild looming may drift out of their best 22 next year. Ballantyne’s departure is the best scenario for both player and club. The draft he was taken in saw plenty of late bargains, so some canny drafting by the Dockers could turn their return for Ballantyne into something special.
Star rating: 2.5/5 – Ballantyne is at the lower end of the scale here, and doesn’t hold a high value at the trade table.