New York Yankees star Aaron Judge is setting himself up nicely to get a massive payday as a free agent after this season, but the three-time All-Star may not sign up to play just anywhere if it's a losing environment.
Per ESPN's Buster Olney, one rival talent evaluator said Judge "wants to win" and would not "sign with a loser like the Cubs are right now."
There probably aren't many Cubs fans who would disagree with that assessment of their franchise at this point.
Owner Tom Ricketts has squandered virtually all of the goodwill that came from Chicago's championship team in 2016. Roster spending is down by nearly $60 million from 2019 when it was $203.1 million.
Virtually every key member of the World Series team is no longer on the roster. Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo were all dealt prior to the trade deadline last July.
Those trades did provide a small boost to the Cubs' farm system, but they still don't have an elite group of prospects in waiting at this point.
The Athletic's Keith Law ranked their system as the 16th-best in MLB coming into this season, with one top-100 prospect (outfielder Brennan Davis, No. 28).
If you're looking at a timeline for when the next great crop of Cubs prospects will arrive, it probably wouldn't come until Judge is in the middle of a long-term contract. He's going to turn 31 next April and has never really experienced a down period in his career.
Entering play on Wednesday, the Cubs have the third-worst record in the National League (25-43). The franchise hasn't won a playoff game since Game 4 of the 2017 NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Judge was drafted No. 32 overall by the Yankees in 2013. He made his MLB debut late in the 2016 season before becoming a full-time player in 2017. The Stanford alum won Rookie of the Year and finished second in AL MVP voting in his first full season.
The Yankees have made the playoffs in each of Judge's first five seasons, including ALCS appearances in 2017 and 2019. They have the best record in MLB this season with a 50-18 mark through 68 games. No other team has more than 45 wins at this point.
Judge did not come to terms with the Yankees on a long-term contract before his self-imposed Opening Day deadline.
General manager Brian Cashman told reporters the team offered him a seven-year, $213.5 million deal. Combined with the $17 million offered by the club for arbitration in 2021, that would have made the total value $230.5 million over eight years.
It looks like a brilliant move by Judge at this point. He's arguably the AL MVP front-runner with a .300/.378/.644 slash line with 25 homers and 50 RBI in 66 games.