Chicago Cubs acquire infielder Michael Busch and reliever Yency Almonte from the Los Angeles Dodgers for 2 prospects

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It was only a matter of when, not if, the Chicago Cubs would use their deep farm system to bolster their major-league roster.

On the heels of Japanese right-hander Shōta Imagana’s four-year deal becoming official Thursday, the Cubs addressed two more holes on their roster. They acquired 26-year-old infielder Michael Busch and right-handed reliever Yency Almonte from the Los Angeles Dodgers for two prospects: left-hander Jackson Ferris and outfielder Zyhir Hope.

Busch is a consensus top-50 prospect, but opportunities with the Dodgers were limited despite him crushing the ball at Triple A — he slugged .618 to complement a .323 average and .431 on-base percentage en route to being named Pacific Coast League Most Valuable Player. The lefty slugger appeared in 27 games for the Dodgers.

Busch, a 2019 first-round pick, can play multiple positions, logging his most time at third base, second and first, making him an ideal fit at the corner infield positions for the Cubs. First base is a particularly notable opening for the Cubs. Lefty-slugging first baseman Matt Mervis got a look last season, but the 25-year-old struggled from May to mid-June during his six-week call-up and did not get another look.

By acquiring two cost-controllable players — Almonte won’t become a free agent until after next season while Busch isn’t arb-eligible until 2027 and free agent in 2030 ― keeping financial resources available to still spend on free agents this offseason.

Almonte, 29, brings six years of big-league experience to the Cubs bullpen. He had an inconsistent 2023, posting a 5.06 ERA in 49 games but pitched well in 2022 with a 1.02 ERA in 33 games. Almonte gives pitching coach Tommy Hottovy a lot to work with, starting with a fastball that averaged 95.9 mph and an overall whiff rate of 30.2%. Reducing his walks and improving effectiveness against lefties would help get Almonte back to his 2022 production.

The trade cost the Cubs high-upside talent in Ferris and Hope, but they net more help for a 2024 team with postseason aspirations by using their farm system’s deep talent pool to take advantage of a blocked player in other organization. President of baseball operations Jed Hoyer and the front office still have more work to do but have found important building blocks between the Dodgers trade and Imanaga signing.

The Cubs also reached agreements with their six arbitration-eligible players ahead of Thursday night’s deadline, according to a source: left-hander Justin Steele ($4 million), right-hander Adbert Alzolay ($2.11 million), outfielder Nick Tauchman ($1.95 million), infielder Nick Madrigal ($1.81 million), Mark Leiter Jr. ($1.5 million) and right-hander Julian Merryweather ($1.175 million).


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