The Cleveland Indians are planning to trade a cornerstone piece of the franchise in Francisco Lindor this offseason.
That likely has some fans up in arms and others feeling defeated over the market disparities in baseball.
One thing it allows is to look ahead at other potential cornerstone pieces for the franchise.
Those players who are crucial to the team’s success and who will hopefully be around for a long time.
Three players on the roster stand out as fitting this description, and we can start with the obvious one.
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) November 11, 2020
3. Shane Bieber
Shane Bieber just won the American League Cy Young Award in only his third year in the majors.
He is the clear ace in the staff and remains under team control through the 2024 season.
Bieber is still only 25 years old and the hope now is the team can sign him to some sort of extension before his star rises too much and the Lindor situation repeats itself.
It would be too pessimistic to already say the team can’t retain the right-hander.
Thus, he is an obvious cornerstone piece of the franchise and can be the next coming of Corey Kluber who has already had success at a young age.
2. Emmanuel Clase
Emmanuel Clase is more of a hopeful future cornerstone than a sure thing.
Some casual fans may have no idea who Clase is and that is fair after he came over in the Kluber trade, only to get busted for PEDs and face a season-ending suspension.
Clase is a hard-throwing reliever who is only 22 years old.
He made his MLB debut with the Texas Rangers in 2019 and the Indians front office believes in him enough to have made him the featured player coming to Cleveland in the Kluber deal.
MLB.com has him ranked as the No. 19 prospect in the system and the hope is he can become the go-to guy at the end of games for years to come.
Clase can hit triple-digits on the radar gun and the hype is certainly real.
Now we just need to see what he can do following a year away from the game with his suspension.
If the front office is right, he is going to be the next bullpen star in Cleveland.
1. Nolan Jones
Nolan Jones is going to be atop such lists until he provides evidence to the contrary.
He is once again the top-ranked player in the system and is a former second-round pick back in 2016.
Nolan Jones went yard.
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) July 14, 2020
The left-handed hitting infielder will have a clear path to the majors once Lindor is indeed traded, assuming there are no surprises this offseason.
He can play third base or even shortstop, which was his position in high school.
Or maybe the Indians want to give him some reps in the outfield.
The options are plentiful with the main goal giving him time at the plate in the majors.
Jones slashed .272/.409/.442 with 15 home runs back in 2019 before spending 2020 taking part in simulated games throughout the summer.
The young infielder is seen as the future of the franchise as the Indians are not a team to trade away top prospects for expensive talent.
Jones is already slotted in as a key piece for the future.
Now he must live up to the billing.