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A look at Cubs trades in the expansion era: 2024

We have reached the present day.

Michael Busch
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

There has been just one trade made by Jed Hoyer & Co. so far in 2024 — we’re only a month in! — and it could wind up as something quite significant.

January 11: Acquired Michael Busch and Yency Almonte from the Dodgers for Jackson Ferris and Zyhir Hope

I have to admit, other than a bare knowledge about Almonte, I really didn’t know much about these players when this deal was made.

Busch is obviously the key to the deal. He was the Dodgers’ No. 1 pick in 2019 (31st overall) out of North Carolina and he’s absolutely demolished minor league pitching. Last year he batted .323/.431/.618 with 27 home runs in just 98 games at Triple-A Oklahoma City. Then he struggled in a brief 27-game trial with the Dodgers. Blocked by Freddie Freeman at first base, he seemed a good trade candidate, and that’s what happened.

Josh wrote this much more detailed writeup about Busch after the deal and if you haven’t read it, you definitely should.

Busch is likely penciled in as the Cubs’ first baseman this year. He’s 26 so it’s time for him to produce at the MLB level. He might also wind up serving as the DH from time to time. If he can hit like he did in the minors and play a passable first base, this is a big win for the Cubs.

Almonte has alternated good and bad years. He’s pitched well in even-numbered years and poorly in odd-numbered years. Yes, I know that’s irrelevant. Last year he posted a 5.06 ERA and 1.396 WHIP in 49 games for the Dodgers, after being very good for them in 2022. Injuries could have been a contributing factor. He’s under contract for $1.9 million in 2024, which if he can pitch the way he did in ‘22, could be a real bargain and great addition to the bullpen.

Ferris and Hope are both very young. Ferris was the Cubs’ second-round pick in 2022 and made 18 starts at Low-A Myrtle Beach last year with a 3.38 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 56 innings. That’s an average of only a bit more than three innings per start, and Ferris is only 20, so what he’ll do going forward is anyone’s guess.

Hope is 19 and was the Cubs’ 11th round pick last year. He hit .286/.419/.543 in 11 games in the Arizona Complex League. There’s really no way to tell what he’ll do from that.

The Dodgers could get value from this three or four years from now. The Cubs could get value, and good value, in 2024.

So this deal, the only one so far in 2024, has to be given an incomplete. Hopefully a year from now I could give it an “A” grade. As always, we await developments.

Thanks for reading this series. It was fun to research and write, and we learned, I think, that many trades that seem one-sided in one direction turn out the other way, and some that were apparent minor deals at the time they were made worked out to be really important.

Several of you asked for a “scorecard” of sorts summing up all the grades given, so here it is. It’s long! There’s more article (and another poll) after the table.

Cubs trade grades, 1962-2023

Year Al's grade Reader grade
Year Al's grade Reader grade
1962 A- A
1963 F F
1964 F F
1965 B+ B
1966 B B
1967 D+ D
1968 B B
1969 F F
1970 D D
1971 B B
1972 F F
1973 C- C
1974 D D
1975 D F
1976 F F
1977 F D
1978 D F
1979 C- D
1980 C C
1981 C+ C
1982 A- A
1983 B B
1984 A A
1985 C+ C
1986 C- D
1987 F F
1988 D- D
1989 D D
1990 B- C
1991 D D
1992 B A
1993 B- C
1994 C+ C
1995 B+ B
1996 C+ D
1997 B C
1998 D D
1999 C- D
2000 C+ C
2001 C+ C
2002 B B
2003 A- A
2004 B- C
2005 D+ D
2006 C D
2007 D- D
2008 D D
2009 F F
2010 F F
2011 D+ D
2012 A A
2013 A A
2014 B- B
2015 B- B
2016 A- A
2017 D D
2018 C- C
2019 C C
2020 D D
2021 B B
2022 C- C
2023 D D

We all agreed, or were close, on most of the yearly grades. Summing up the men who made these deals:

1962-75: John Holland
1976: E.R. “Salty” Saltwell
1977-81: Bob Kennedy
1982-87: Dallas Green
1988-91: Jim Frey
1992-94: Larry Himes
1995-99: Ed Lynch
2000-02: Andy MacPhail
2002-11: Jim Hendry
2012-20: Theo Epstein
2021-present: Jed Hoyer

There’s a bit of overlap in a couple of those years, but those are basically the years for which those men were responsible for the trades covered in this series.

Over the last six decades, the Cubs have certainly made some bad deals (Brock for Broglio, many of the deals in the early 1970s) but have also made outstanding trades, acquiring Hall of Famers Fergie Jenkins and Ryne Sandberg and star players who helped the team win the World Series, most notably Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Hendricks, Dexter Fowler and Jake Arrieta.

Let’s hope for more deals like the latter few in the coming month and years.

Poll

Give the Cubs an overall grade for their trades from 1962 to 2024.

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    A
    (5 votes)
  • 9%
    B
    (27 votes)
  • 62%
    C
    (184 votes)
  • 24%
    D
    (72 votes)
  • 2%
    F
    (7 votes)
295 votes total Vote Now