Fremantle and the AFL have confirmed veteran defender Joel Hamling has signed with Sydney via free agency.

Hamling has had a deal on the table from the Dockers this off-season, however the former Geelong and Bulldogs backman has instead opted for a switch to the Swans from 2024.

Sydney have signalled their intent to add to their backline this year following the loss of retired defender Paddy McCartin, who called time on his career due to an ongoing battle with concussion.

On the first day of free agency for 2023, Fremantle confirmed Hamling had notified the club of his decision to head east, with the AFL confirming on Sunday that the backman was joining his fourth club.

“Joel has been a highly valued member of our team since he joined the Club at the end of 2016,” Fremantle football manager Bell said earlier this week.

“He was a consistent performer down back for us before he sustained a significant ankle injury in the pre-season of 2020.

“To see Joel return to AFL football this year after such a long period out of the game and play the football we know he is capable of, was really pleasing to see.

“It is always a hard time of year, but Joel has a young family and clearly his decision to explore his options as a delisted free agent played a factor in that.

“We wish him all the best and thank him for his contribution to the Freo Family."

A premiership player for the Dogs during their 2016 campaign, Hamling played 23 games in the red, white and blue after being delisted by the Cats in 2014.

Hamling would then return to his home state of WA in 2016 via a trade and has since played 68 games at AFL level - including four this year.

The addition of Hamling follows the Swans' recent acquisition of Demons midfielder James Jordon, who also ventured to the Harbour City via free agency.

Free agency opened on Friday and will run for seven days, closing at 5:00pm on October 13.

The AFL is yet to confirm the compensation Fremantle will receive for the loss of Hamling.