FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Red Sox may be down an MVP and Cy Young Award winner, but that doesn't mean the players left behind have quit on 2020.

Not very many Red Sox teams get to legitimately play the "no one believes in us" card, but this year will most definitely be an exception, and there's nothing athletes like better than proving the doubters wrong.

"We don't care what anybody says," outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. said on Tuesday. "You have to go out there and play the game. You don't know who is going to win. You have to go out there and perform and take care of your business, because if you could always guess who was going to win, what's the point of playing the game? You can write us off, you can give us some predictions, I want to see who's going to be the closest."

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The trade of Mookie Betts (MVP) and David Price (Cy Young) to the Dodgers will make the Red Sox worse in 2020, which chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom admitted on Monday night. But it doesn't make them hopeless, especially as the us-vs.-them narrative already takes hold in the clubhouse.

"Listen, Mookie and DP were phenomenal players and still are phenomenal players," said reliever Matt Barnes. "But you look around our team, we've got a bunch of All-Stars and a bunch of phenomenal players, and we still feel we're going to compete for a championship."

 

Expect to hear a lot of this all spring. While major questions remain about the health and viability of ace Chris Sale and third starter Nathan Eovaldi, there's little question the Red Sox boast a powerhouse lineup, with or without Betts.

From Rafael Devers to Xander Bogaerts to J.D. Martinez to Andrew Benintendi, Alex Verdugo, and even Christian Vazquez, the Red Sox boast no shortage of dangerous bats, which gives them a chance.

"We're focused on the guys in this clubhouse," Barnes said. "I'll tell you as many times as you want how great (Betts and Price) were as teammates and people and players. But we're focused on our clubhouse right now.

"Anytime you lose an MVP, it's going to be hard. And then you lose a guy with a track record like DP, he's got a Cy Young and what he did in '18 for us, but at the same time, we can't focus on that. We've got to focus on who's inside that clubhouse and what we're doing as a team moving forward this year."

Bradley, the subject of trade rumors all winter, is just looking ahead.

"Well, time to move forward," he said. "It's one of those things that's part of the business and you kind of go with the flow."