Dodgers trade Michael Busch, Yency Almonte to Cubs for prospects Jackson Ferris, Zyhir Hope

Yency Almonte (Photo: Cody Bashore)

On arbitration-deadline day, the Dodgers opted to also address their 40-man roster crunch by sending infield prospect Michael Busch and right-handed reliever Yency Almonte to the Cubs for left-handed pitching prospect Jackson Ferris and outfielder Zyhir Hope.

The biggest part of this deal — other than the Dodgers trading a Top 50 MLB prospect in Busch — is the fact that they cleared two 40-man roster spots to make way for the announcement of Teoscar Hernandez and potentially another move (a right-handed bullpen arm I have my eye on and plan to write about soon).


I looked at some potential landing spots for Busch back in December, and Chicago was a target … except it was the South Side (White Sox), not North Side (Cubs). Whatever happened this offseason, after extending Max Muncy, publicly saying Mookie Betts would play more second base, signing Shohei Ohtani and then Hernandez, the Dodgers owed it to Busch to move him to a club that would give him a chance at consistent MLB playing time. The Cubs give him that opportunity at the corner infield spots, as well as left field and designated hitter. He has nothing left to prove in the minors, and despite questions he has to answer, if he reaches his ceiling he should be an above-average hitter in the majors.

Almonte had a strong 2022 season once the Dodgers signed him (1.02 ERA, 3.17 FIP, 17 K-BB%), but he fell off quite a bit last season (5.06 ERA, 4.59 FIP, 12 K-BB%). He had just agreed to a $1.9 million contract via arbitration shortly before word of the trade was being consummated. A potentially solid reliever, but ultimately a fungible one.


Now, onto the Dodgers’ return in this deal.

The biggest piece is Ferris. The nearly 20-year-old was the Cubs’ 47th overall selection in the 2022 MLB Draft. They gave him first-round money at $3.005 million, and they were able to do so by giving No. 7 overall pick Cade Horton an under-slot deal that same year.

Ferris is armed with a fastball that sits in the 92-95 MPH range and can top out at 97. He also has a sweeper in the 80s, which we know the Dodgers like, a mid-70s curveball with a true 12-6 break and a mid-80s changeup that he has some feel for, but still needs refinement. The MLB Pipeline comparison on his profile is a Blake Snell with better mechanics and stuff, which, yeah, that’ll play. A more apt comp might be Maddux Bruns with better command/control.

Here’s what Baseball Prospectus had to say about him in their Cubs 2024 prospect list.

“Ferris did about everything you’d want from your second-round prep lefty in his first full pro season. Well, I suppose except average at least four innings a start. To be fair, not many orgs want that nowadays, preferring to (very) slowly ramp up teenaged pitchers towards a 150-inning goal. It does make the evaluation a bit trickier as there is now a very clear known unknown. How will Ferris’ mid-90s heat and two potential above-average breakers play when meted out over a longer stretch of mound time? You eventually have to answer this question with every notable prep pitcher, and the idea is that over the developmental years Ferris also adds strength to his 6-foot-4 frame, allowing him to maintain his stuff while stretching out as a starter. There are some other present concerns: His command of the fastball lags behind his sweepy slider and downer power curve, and he uses a stabby, snatchy arm action that could exacerbate that issue. But it’s hard to overlook a lefty with a shot at three plus pitches, even if the picture hasn’t come into focus yet.”

Projectable, young, high ceiling … it’ll be interesting to see what the Dodgers can do with him.

Hope, 19 in eight days, was the Cubs’ 11th-rounder in the 2023 draft. They gave him the famous over-slot 11th-round bonus of $400,000. He immediately resembles Dodgers’ 2023 1st-rounder Kendall George, without as much speed but more pop. He appeared in just 11 games in his pro debut in the Arizona Complex League, hitting .286/.419/.543 with three home runs and eight walks.

Again, from Baseball Prospectus.

“Hope, a Virginia prep outfielder, went for an overslot bonus in the 11th round last July, and can already do a lot of damage with the lumber. As a Day Three, six-figure prep bat he also carries some hit tool and positional questions. But if the contact profile was better and he was a sure shot center fielder, he’d have gotten seven figures on Day One instead. His hand path starts with a bit of a pump/hitch, but there’s a lot of bat speed to work with and the kind of controlled violence that if you rein in just enough, you might have an impact bat in the outfield. This is aggressive perhaps, but we wanted to make sure you at least knew his name going into 2024.”

The Dodgers like their athletic position players, and Hope is just that.

This was a necessary trade for the Dodgers — not just for the roster crunch, but for Busch. And they did a pretty good job of getting some higher-ceiling prospects rather than those with higher floors. With the Dodgers’ player developmental system, this should be more the norm than for other orgs. Let’s see what they can do with their two new guys.

About Dustin Nosler

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Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.