Initial word on Thursday afternoon was that the Chicago Cubs were set to acquire right-handed relief pitcher Yency Almonte from the Los Angeles Dodgers.
While Almonte certainly addressed a need in the Cubs' bullpen for a middle relief pitcher, as a standalone deal, it was a curious move.
As it turns out, the Cubs' deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers was much larger as the team is acquiring the Dodgers' No. 2 overall prospect in third baseman Michael Busch.
With the move, it would seem that Busch is primed to open the 2024 season as the Cubs' starting third baseman. While Busch has his limitations as a fielder, his offensive profile projects to be a direct answer to what the team needs in their starting lineup--a left-handed bat that has power.
At the Dodgers' Triple-A affiliate during the 2023 season, Busch gave the impression that he was ready for the Major Leagues. Busch slashed .323/.431/.618 with 27 home runs and a 150 wRC+ in 469 plate appearances. That success did not immediately translate to the Major League level, however, as he slashed .167/.247/.292 with a 49 wRC+ in 81 plate appearances.
Given the struggles that he had, Cubs fans will undoubtedly view this as the team acquiring the Dodgers' version of Matt Mervis. That would be a misguided view of the deal as Busch is a former first-round pick and is widely considered to be among the best prospects in all of baseball. MLB Pipeline has Busch ranked as the No. 44 prospect in all of baseball.
To speak to how highly the Cubs view Busch, the team parted with pitching prospect Jackson Ferris. At only 19 years old, Ferris had already cracked the top tier of the Cubs' prospect rankings with the expectation that he could be the team's best pitching prospect once Cade Horton and Ben Brown graduate to the Major League level.