Orioles Preview - Page 33 - The Indians

Orioles Preview
- Page 33
The Indians

Associated Press


Carlos Santana’s TV-bashing days should be over.


Back in Cleveland after spending one year in Philadelphia, where he ended some teammates’ obsession with the popular video game Fortnite with one swing, Santana is excited to be returning to a team with World Series title aspirations.


It’s not that the Phillies didn’t have big goals, but while they were in a September swoon, some players sneaked out of the dugout during games to play video games in the clubhouse. Santana’s bat ended that.


With the Indians, there should be no such off-field distractions or diversions.


And while the rest of the AL Central made numerous moves last winter to try to close the gap, the three-time defending division champions lost some power but essentially stayed the course.


“We have a great team,” said Santana, the switch-hitting first baseman reacquired by the Indians via a three-team deal trade with the Rays and Mariners in December.


The Indians, who might have All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor back from a strained calf when they open, don’t have much reason to be fearful in the division.


But the scary thing is that if they want to win their first World Series since 1948, the Indians must climb into the same realm with the Red Sox, Yankees and Astros. The AL’s elite didn’t undergo as much change this offseason as the Indians, who slashed payroll by choosing not to re-sign free-agent All-Star outfielder Michael Brantley, closer Cody Allen or dominant reliever Andrew Miller.


The Indians also traded All-Star catcher Yan Gomes, slugger Edwin Encarnacion and first baseman Yonder Alonso. They dangled ace Corey Kluber and All-Star Trevor Bauer in trade talks but didn’t pull the trigger. The club may still be open to dealing one of them, especially if things don’t go as planned.


The five horsemen: The Indians became the first team to have four pitchers with 200 strikeouts in the same season.


Kluber and Carlos Carrasco have track records, and with Bauer, Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber, the Indians have three of the game’s best young righties.


The enviable depth is why the club would consider moving Kluber, a two-time Cy Young Award winner who has won at least 18 games each of the last three seasons, at the deadline.


Dynamic duo: No team has a 1-2 punch quite like Lindor and third baseman Jose Ramirez. Both switch-hitters, the pair became the first players in club history to record at least 35 homers, 35 doubles,90RBIs and25 steals in the same season. They’re also the first teammates with at least 80 extra-base hits in consecutive seasons since Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig.


Tick, tock: Rather than go to arbitration, Lindor signed a $10.55 million contract this season, a colossal raise from his $623,000 salary last season but nothing like he could get as a free agent. That won’t happen until the end of 2021 season, but the Indians have to be planning for a future without Lindor, who has turned down previous long-term deals.


New faces: Looking to offset their power depletion—Encarnacion, Brantley, Alonso and Gomes combined for 88 homers and 314 RBIs — the Indians signed Hanley Ramirez and Carlos Gonzalez to minor-league contracts. Ramirez could serve as the primary designated hitter, while Gonzalez may stabilize the club’s outfield situation.


Photo: Jose Ramirez, left, and Francisco Lindor will provide the Indians a fearsome 1-2 punch.