CLEVELAND — To say that the Cleveland Indians lost a lot in the past offseason might be a bit of an understatement.
Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco are now members of the New York Mets, following a January blockbuster trade.
Carlos Santana is now with the Kansas City Royals and Brad Hand signed with the Washington Nationals. Both players had the player options on their contracts declined by Cleveland.
Neither Delino DeShields Jr. nor Tyler Naquin, who played the most games for the Indians in center and right field, respectively in 2020, are back either. DeShields received a Spring Training invitation from the Texas Rangers, while Naquin received one from the Cincinnati Reds.
Altogether, Cleveland enters 2021 replacing four members of its starting lineup, its No. 2 starting pitcher and its primary closer. Three of those players -- Lindor, Santana and Hand -- lay claim to a combined eight career All-Star appearances.
Yet despite all Cleveland lost this past offseason, Indians president Chris Antonetti remains confident his team will remain competitive in 2021. Why?
"Shane Bieber and Jose Ramirez," Antonetti answered on Thursday.
Well that settles that.
But in all seriousness, Antonetti's answer wasn't just an attempt at providing a quotable comeback. In Bieber and Ramirez, Cleveland lays claim to two of the best players in all of baseball, including the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner and a three-time American League MVP finalist.
While a 2020 season that was shortened to just 60 games due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic provided a relatively small sample size, both players had already established themselves as members of the Indians' core well before last year. And after waiting behind the likes of Lindor, Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer, it's now their turns to serve as the faces of Cleveland baseball as it enters a new era -- an era that Antonetti anticipates to still be competitive.
"It will be a different group," Antonetti said of the pieces surrounding his two core players. "But it's a group we feel is young and talented."