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Cubs pull off intriguing trade with Dodgers

1 month agoAndy Martinez

On the heels of their first major-league free agent signing of the offseason, the Cubs are continuing to augment their roster, this time through the trade market.

The team is close to acquiring righty reliever Yency Almonte and infielder and former 1st round pick Michael Busch from the Dodgers, a source confirmed. Pitching prospect Jackson Ferris and outfield prospect Zyhir Hope are heading to Los Angeles in return.  

Busch, 26, was a consensus Top 100 prospect in baseball entering last season, playing primarily second base (238 starts) in the minors. He played third base for the first time in his professional career this season, making 61 starts in the minor leagues there.

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He made his major-league debut in 2023, slashing .167/.247/.292/49 wRC+ with 2 home runs and 7 RBI in 27 games. Thirteen of those games came at third base, 8 at DH, 4 at first base and 1 each at second base and left field.

The 31st overall pick in 2019, Busch slashed .323/.431/.618 with a 150 wRC+ with 27 home runs and 90 RBI in 98 games at Triple-A Oklahoma City last year. He has produced a wRC+ above league average in every one of his professional stops, except his debut at rookie ball where he played only 5 games.

The acquisition of Busch serves many needs for the Cubs’ roster — he can provide a powerful, left-handed hitting option for manager Craig Counsell, something the team had sorely been lacking with the departure of Cody Bellinger via free agency. With Busch’s addition, the team could potentially have another left-handed hitting option to go along with outfielder Mike Tauchman, utilityman Miles Mastrobuoni and switch-hitting Ian Happ.

Busch still has minor league options, too, so the Cubs won’t feel pressed into rushing him into everyday playing time. Busch should be in competition for either the Cubs’ first base or third base job when camp opens up next month in Mesa, Ariz., but he can also factor in at DH and the move gives the Cubs options.

Busch will be reunited with Cubs’ hitting coach Dustin Kelly, who was the Dodgers’ minor league hitting coordinator before joining Chicago.

Almonte, 29, has posted a 4.51 ERA and 1.32 WHIP in 207.1 innings across parts of 6 seasons with the Rockies and Dodgers. In 2023, Almonte was 3-2 with a 5.06 ERA in 48 innings, a regression from an impressive debut season with Los Angeles.

Two years ago, the righty posted a minuscule 1.02 ERA and 0.79 WHIP in 35.1 innings. Opponents hit just .186 off him that year.

His addition is a welcome boon to a reliever corps that struggled down the stretch in 2023. The team relied heavily on Adbert Alzolay, Mark Leiter Jr., Julian Merryweather and Michael Fulmer and all of them, except Merryweather, dealt with injuries in the final weeks of the season. Almonte’s addition gives Counsell a new option out of the bullpen.

Ferris, 19, was the Cubs’ 2nd round pick in 2022 from IMG Academy. The southpaw made his pro debut this season and posted a 3.38 ERA across 18 starts for Low-A Myrtle Beach. He struck out 77 batters in 56 innings.

Hope, 18, was taken in the 11th round of the 2023 Draft and slashed .286/.419/.543 with 3 home runs and 9 RBI in 11 games for the Arizona Complex League Cubs.

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