Josh Battle in action during the match between Brisbane and St Kilda at the Gabba in round 24, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

A PROPOSED tweak to the free agency compensation formula this year adds further intrigue to Josh Battle's "line-ball" call on his future, according to's trade and draft expert Cal Twomey. 

Battle is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this year and has received interest from Hawthorn and Melbourne, with Collingwood also linked.

The AFL's compensation formula for clubs who lose a free agent has long been shrouded in some mystery, although a player's age and salary are known to be contributing factors. But the League has indicated the length of a contract will also be factored in from this season, which could mean the Saints will get a higher compensation pick for Battle than they would have in previous years.

Twomey reported Hawthorn has six years on the table for Battle, who is weighing the interest against staying at the Saints, who have been keen to keep him.

But if he did depart, the expected change in the compensation model could boost the Saints' chances of getting a band one compensation pick. 


A band one pick comes immediately after the club's first-round draft selection and the Saints, who are in 14th place heading into round 16, currently hold pick No.5.

"Question (is), if the money is going to be good enough to get band one, what's the right compensation? And if we end up with picks five and six at St Kilda at the end of the year, what's actually the best result for them?" Twomey said on Gettable this week.

"I think you'd have to say (you would take) the picks for the long term and you find a key back another way, a cheaper one.

"It's going to be touch and go if he does leave and whether the money is good enough. But the length of free agency is coming into the compensation formula.

"I think it's a bit of a line-ball call now between St Kilda and the Hawks. Melbourne has been chasing him, but I think their fall-off in form as the Hawks rise in form has swung the ledger a bit. Collingwood has been linked as well.

"The Hawks' offer, as I understand it, will be six years as an unrestricted free agent and I'd expect the Saints to put forward the same deal, six years, to keep him."

Josh Battle sings the team song after St Kilda's win over Geelong at Marvel Stadium in round 23, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Last year, North Melbourne was given band one compensation for losing Ben McKay to Essendon, handing the Roos pick No.3 to go with the pick No.2 they got for finishing second last. St Kilda and Adelaide received end-of-first round compensation picks for losing Jade Gresham to Essendon and Tom Doedee to Brisbane respectively.

The AFL's head of player movement Ned Guy told Gettable last month that it is likely contract length would be a factor in free agency compensation this year.

"There's a good chance of that. It's not so much the secret herbs and spices it's been pitched to be," Guy said. 

"A lot of the feedback from clubs was 'Can we get greater transparency on the model?' and there's a bit of an appetite from us to do that.

"We've got to be careful how close we go to revealing to the public players' salaries, but I think there's a model where we can provide a little bit more transparency to clubs and to the public to see how the compensation bands work."

Ross Lyon speaks to Josh Battle during St Kilda's training session at RSEA Park on June 4, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

Since free agency was introduced in 2012, only seven moves have triggered first-round compensation; McKay last year, Joe Daniher to Brisbane and Zac Williams to Carlton in 2020, Tom Lynch to Richmond in 2018, James Frawley to Hawthorn in 2014, Dale Thomas to Carlton in 2013 and Brendon Goddard to Essendon in 2012.