Will Cubs be motivated by Mookie Betts, Dodgers contract extension talks?

The Cubs aren’t talking extensions. Will the Mookie Betts rumors change that?

When the Los Angeles Dodgers swung the deal that brought Mookie Betts to the City of Angels, they undoubtedly envisioned more than the 60 games they’ll get in 2020. With reports of the two sides talking a massive contract extension swirling, they could get exactly what they were hoping for. The only question for Cubs fans is whether or not Chicago will follow suit with their own stars.

According to a report from WEEI, the Dodgers and Betts are closing in on a 10-year deal in the $350-$400 million range. Of course, that would place the 27-year-old outfielder among the game’s highest-paid players – in the range of Mike Trout money.

Betts is coming off his fourth consecutive All-Star selection and is hoping to bring home his second World Series ring in the last three years, ending the Dodgers’ 32-year title drought in his first go-round with the team. Los Angeles is a clear-cut favorite to represent the National League in the World Series this season – but there could be effects of this deal that go well beyond the Dodgers cementing themselves atop the Senior Circuit.

We’ve talked about it ad nauseam in recent weeks and months. The Cubs are nearing the end of their competitive window. Theo Epstein could conceivably see Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras and Kyle Schwarber all leave in the next two years. To this point, talks have been put on hold – especially in the wake of the season’s suspension back in March, most notably with Bryant and Baez.

We know that all MLB owners are looking at massive financial losses this year. That’s a given and seems likely to stop a lot of organizations from shelling out big money. Chicago, which spent the entire offseason looking to get under the $208 million luxury tax threshold, has just over a month to cut payroll and reset their penalties heading into 2021 – or risk escalating penalties that will undoubtedly seem even more harsh for Tom Ricketts given the impact of COVID-19.

Neither Bryant nor Baez would come cheap – nor should they. Both are elite players (whether you’d like to acknowledge it or not) and, while it’s debatable if they’re worth Trout money, you’re going to have to shell out serious coin to lock them up long-term.

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I don’t know how feasible it will be to see the Cubs announce something, especially with CBA negotiations just over a year away. But I’m foolishly hoping the Dodgers’ impending extension with Betts will light a fire under ownership and encourage them to think big picture rather than get bogged down by a less-than-stellar short-term financial outlook.