Keith Law’s Top 20 rookie ranking could make Dodgers regret Cubs trade

Mar 5, 2024; Surprise, Arizona, USA; Chicago Cubs designated hitter Michael Busch (29) bats against
Mar 5, 2024; Surprise, Arizona, USA; Chicago Cubs designated hitter Michael Busch (29) bats against / Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn't exactly surprising when the Dodgers traded Michael Busch in January. The timing of it — arbitration deadline day — was a little strange, but the feeling in LA was that Busch's time with the organization was coming to a close. A No. 3 prospect for the Dodgers in 2022, Busch got his call-up in 2023 and played in 27 games, hitting .167/.247/.292 in a somewhat clumsy arrival.

As the offseason progressed, Mookie Betts moved to second base and Gavin Lux returned from injury to play shortstop (although this, of course, has since flip-flopped). Freddie Freeman and Max Muncy, of course, would return to occupy the corners of the infield. Busch hadn't gotten much of a chance in the majors, but it didn't seem like the Dodgers would have much room to slot him in for more of one in 2024.

So he was shipped off to the Cubs in a move that brought two prospects to LA and cleared 40-man space for Teoscar Hernández.

In Cubs spring training, Busch has been hitting a pretty decent .250/.357/.583 and is expected to form a platoon at first base with Cody Bellinger and Garrett Cooper. Keith Law of The Athletic took his optimism for Busch even further, ranking him No. 3 on his "Top 20 MLB rookies likely to have the biggest impact in 2024 list" (subscription required).

The Athletic gave high, optimistic marks to former Dodger Michael Busch after trade to Cubs this offseason

Law projected a 20+ homer season, around 60 walks, and .250/.335/.430 line for Busch in 2024, making his estimations more optimistic than most of FanGraphs' predictive models. Busch was also ranked above the likes of Jackson Holliday, Paul Skenes, and Junior Caminero, MLB Pipeline's Nos. 1, 3, and 4 prospects this year.

He also noted that Busch only just barely qualifies as a rookie after his games with the Dodgers last season, so the pressure on him to have a breakout year is already high. When he was traded, the move was met with general positivity, because at least he would get more of an opportunity to prove himself on a team less overwhelmingly crowded. It's a make-or-break year for Busch, and if Law's predictions are anywhere close to accurate, the Dodgers might end up regretting that they let him go.