He knew it was coming as did fans and the Indians organization.
But the team still remains a dark-horse contender in 2021 and that is thanks to other stars on the roster.
On the mound there is the ace, Shane Bieber.
On offense all the attention goes toward Jose Ramirez after yet another top-3 finish in American League MVP voting last year.
Ramirez finished second while also taking home Silver Slugger honors.
Will Leitch of MLB.com recently went through the entire league and picked one player each team cannot win without in 2021.
Ramirez was his choice for Cleveland.
— FOX Sports Cleveland (@FOXSportsCLE) March 18, 2021
Ramirez Taking Over Lindor’s Role
“As frustrated as fans are right now, imagine how sad they’d be if José had never pulled out of that early-2019 slump?” Leitch writes.
2019 was indeed a concerning year for Ramirez.
He was coming off a 7.6-WAR 2018 season and came out of the gates struggling.
However, he still managed to post a 3.4 WAR in the down year.
Ramirez is now the face of the franchise with Lindor gone.
The 28-year-old became an everyday player in 2016 and has been a fan favorite ever since.
Jose Ramirez has 61 home runs on fastballs since the start of 2018 — most in MLB.
Top 5 ⬇
2. Muncy 55
3. Harper 54
T4. Suarez 52
T4. Arenado 52 pic.twitter.com/8mJSBRbPUA
— Inside Edge (@IE_MLB) March 19, 2021
He brings not only talent, but a ton of personality to the team as well.
That is going to be huge in a year when there is a mix of veterans trying to work alongside the next batch of young talent in the organization.
Expectations are always high with Ramirez and nothing about that will change in 2021.
Potential Distractions in 2021
Ramirez’s name was floated around in trade rumors this offseason and mostly because the team appeared to be shedding any and all salary.
He is set to earn $9 million this season and has club options in 2022 and 2023.
Ramirez is going to want some future assurance about his money and the Indians have reportedly brought up the idea of a contract extension.
But letting this discussion linger without making much progress could serve as a major distraction this season.
The last thing the Indians need is yet another dark cloud of financial talks hanging over a season.
The best-case scenario would be the Indians signing Ramirez to a long-term extension at some point before the end of the season.
A more likely scenario is the team picking up his club option and then trying to work out a deal.
Ramirez signed a team-friendly deal in 2017 and is going to seek way more money this time around.
That is fair given the fact he is the new face of the franchise and has played like it for the past five years.