The Cleveland Indians sometimes have to look beyond the normal scope in order to find franchise cornerstone-type players due to budgetary restraints.
As a small-market team, the Cleveland Indians, especially under the Mark Shapiro era, were desperate to find talent anywhere and everywhere they could. While the farm system is down below the standards it was at in 2020, it’s still stocked full of high-end talent. That wasn’t the case for the Mark Shapiro years.
The Indians had a terrible farm system, filled with washed-out prospects, bad picks, and players who never met their potential. Due to this, the team had to look for starters and cornerstone players anywhere they could, even off of the scrap heap. Sometimes that worked, see Michael Bradley. For other times that failed, see the eight names below.
Now, for clarity, not every name down below will be one that you would immediately think of as a player the club expected to be “THE GUY” moving forward. I assure you, at one point the hype around these players was that they were going to be a great piece to build around, or the team was that desperate that they thought they found something.
Two honorable mentions, because they don’t really deserve to be on this list. Firstly there’s Grady Sizemore. Taken after names like Aaron Herr, Xavier Nady, and Brian Tallet, Sizemore had potential but no one was screaming about him until he landed with the Tribe after the Bartolo Colon trade to Montreal. Sizemore played wonderfully with the Indians until injuries caught up to him. Unlike the names on this list, he did fulfill the hype of being a cornerstone player.
Another name, just like Sizemore, is his old teammate, Travis Hafner. Hafner was a kicker add-on in the Ryan Drese/Enar Diaz deals to Texas. Hafner earned a lot of hype during his stints in the minors for the Tribe and then delivered in spades on the main club. Until that damn injury bug popped back up.
Both guys had good but short careers. That’s why they don’t make the list.