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Michael Busch to Find Work at Different Spot in 2024

As Spring Training has started, the Cubs are ready to utilize a new piece in a different spot in 2024. The organization acquired left-handed hitting infielder Michael Busch from the Dodgers back in January. The hope in acquiring Busch was that the club could provide him with everyday opportunities. Busch had been noted to play second and third base in the Dodger system. Third base didn’t seem like an issue when Chicago initially acquired him, but that has since changed. After manager Craig Counsell said Christopher Morel would get consistent reps at third, Busch was left out of a position. 

The Other Corner 

Even with the Cody Bellinger Cody Bellinger signing, it has been made clear that the Cubs want to rotate Busch in at first base when the team faces right-handers this season. Out of the 27 games that Busch played in 2023, only four came at first base. While that doesn’t sound promising, it does help that first base is one of the easier positions to pick up in baseball. Just don’t ask Ron Washington his thoughts on the manner (wink wink, Moneyball). 

The organization has also consistently worked with Busch over the other side of the diamond throughout camp. He has been taking reps with the regulars in this spot, which shows how much the Cubs want him in the lineup to some capacity moving forward. They wouldn’t have given up a top-10 prospect in Jackson Ferris if they didn’t think of multiple places to put Busch in the field. Having the DH in today’s game is also a nice luxury, especially if Busch is consistently crushing righties. In a hypothetical world, Counsell can play Pete Crow-Armstrong, Bellinger, and Busch all at once if all is going well. 

Long Term Outlook 

If Busch can prove why he was a first-round pick in 2019, then none of this defensive stuff matters. Unfortunately, he hasn’t had the best go at the dish in his short stints in the show. In his multiple trips back and forth last season, Busch hit just .167. This came in 72 at-bats across the aforementioned 27 contests. The former UNC Tar Heel clubbed two homers and slugged just .292 amid these struggles. 

Other contributors at this different spot that Busch could run into this season include Bellinger, Matt Mervis, Patrick Wisdom, and the newly signed Garrett Cooper. It’s known that Bellinger will work in the center field and will spend some time in the DH spot after being brought back. Plus, Bellinger can now hit lefties, too, so there will be no competition there for Busch, with him currently not in the fold when southpaws toe the rubber. Cooper and Wisdom might be fighting for a roster spot, and there is a realistic chance that only one will be around to battle with Busch for playing time. It also helps that both struggle against righties and specialize lefties, therefore not standing as a threat to Busch. 

Opportunities will be around for Busch in 2024. The Cubs didn’t get him for free; there are loopholes around his potential competitors’ playing time. The only thing that stands in his way of earning regular at-bats is his consistency at the dish. 

Main Photo Credits: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports


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