FREMANTLE remains "really comfortable" with the list it is building, according to football boss Peter Bell, despite the growing number of talented players who have left the club in recent years.
Valuable small forward Lachie Schultz joined wingman Liam Henry on Monday in seeking a trade to Victoria, nominating Collingwood as his preferred club in a blindside for the Dockers, who had previously held talks with the 25-year-old about an extension.
The pair join Blake Acres, Adam Cerra, Rory Lobb and Griffin Logue among players who have left or plan to leave the Dockers in the past three off-seasons in a set of departures that threaten to set the club back in its ambitions for success.
Amid those exits, Fremantle has re-signed key players including Caleb Serong (2027), Hayden Young (2027), Brennan Cox (2030), and Michael Frederick (2026) to long-term deals, as well as adding premiership ruckman Luke Jackson from Melbourne.
While the Dockers could choose to deny Schultz's trade request and hold him to his 2024 contract, Bell said change could create opportunities for the club to add talent to its list, as had been the case when Cerra left at the end of 2021.
"I use 'Cez' as an example, who we loved during his time at Fremantle and he was a great teammate and really solid character," Bell told Continental Tyres AFL Trade Radio.
"At the time we were thinking we really don't want to lose him, he's a great player and a great character. But we were able to turn the pick from Adam Cerra into Jye Amiss, who kicks 40 goals as a 19-year-old key forward.
"They're really hard to find. So change itself can sometimes offer you great opportunity as well."
Bell said there had been several players who had left Fremantle in recent seasons for greater opportunities, and they had gone with the club's support.
Contract offers that were perceived as uncompetitive or delayed, however, have also played a role in the Dockers losing players such as Acres and Logue.
Given some of those players who had left were local talents, Bell said becoming more focused on drafting West Australians was not necessarily the answer to retention.
"We like to draft West Australians as a general rule, but we can't shut ourselves off from talent across the nation," he said.
"Western Australia produces around 18 per cent of draftees on average, so that's a big percentage of where else the talent might lie around Australia.
"And looking at our list, we've got long-term commitments from players from all over Australia … we're really comfortable with the list we're building at the moment."
On Schultz's request to join Collingwood, Bell said the Dockers would listen to what the Magpies had to offer but declined to put a value on the durable and talented small forward, who the club would prefer to retain.
"We’re open to listening to Collingwood and going through that process," Bell said after Schultz formally requested a trade on Monday.
"But the conversations with Lachie as well, which I had with him and were held in a really open and comfortable way, there's a strong possibility also that he'll be playing in 2024 for us. That's where it currently sits."
Schultz hit a trigger during 2023 to extend his contract into next season but will be a free agent at the end of 2024 given he has been cut by the Dockers through his career and re-listed as a rookie. He had previously been in conversations about extending his deal.
"We'd had conversations around him where there was a commitment to play through to his contract and continue those negotiations," Bell said.
"So on that basis, there was an element of surprise that the request came, given our list manager had had those conversations with him and his manager.
"But acknowledging circumstances can change and change pretty quickly, and that seems to be the case with Lachie."