The question to Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber about how money changes people wasn’t even finished when a first baseman with rabbit ears piped in from four lockers away Wednesday.

‘‘Money talks,’’ Anthony Rizzo said, smiling.

If that wasn’t a tone-setter for the start of Cubs spring training, consider it at least another voice in a growing chorus of players critical of the game’s economic squeeze on salaries — and more focused on upcoming collective-bargaining negotiations than players have been in a generation.

‘‘I think the luxury tax wasn’t meant to be a salary cap, and teams are treating it like that,’’ Rizzo told the Sun-Times. ‘‘Are you sacrificing winning a championship to be under the tax threshold? Who knows? We don’t know that.’’

Nobody disputes the fact that payroll-budget limitations the last two winters prevented the Cubs’ front office from making the kinds of roster improvements it desired.

So it’s certainly not a leap to suggest those threshold-minded budgets contributed to just enough weak links and soft spots to prevent the Cubs from winning the National League Central in 2018 and missing the playoffs in 2019.

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‘You’ve seen it the last two years with us: We haven’t gone out [and signed big free agents],’’ Rizzo said. ‘‘But the few years before that, we’ve gone out and signed megadeals.’’

The Cubs averaged 97 victories and reached three consecutive NL Championship Series in 2015-17, winning the 2016 World Series along the way.