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Monday, July 27, 2009
Updated: August 1, 1:38 AM ET
Giants trade for 1B Garko

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SAN FRANCISCO -- The San Francisco Giants got the offensive first baseman they've been seeking. The Cleveland Indians received a pitcher they consider a future big league starter.

Garko
Garko

The Giants acquired first baseman Ryan Garko from the Indians on Monday, filling a big need in the infield and adding a key right-handed bat.

Garko was a late lineup scratch for the Indians before they opened a road series against the Los Angeles Angels, and he just needed to fly about an hour up the Pacific Coast to join his new club. He was batting .285 with 11 home runs and 39 RBIs in 78 games for Cleveland, including .343 this month to raise his average 25 points.

The Giants, who fell out of the wild-card lead with a 3-7 road trip, gave up Class-A left-hander Scott Barnes in the deal. Barnes, considered a Top-20 prospect in San Francisco's organization, was 12-3 with a 2.85 ERA and 99 strikeouts in 18 starts and 98.0 innings.

The deal was first reported by ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney.

The 28-year-old Garko is expected to be in uniform for the Giants on Tuesday -- and general manager Brian Sabean hopes to keep him around beyond this season. Garko, who played at Stanford and is in his fifth major league season and third full campaign, will be eligible for arbitration for the first time.

Garko will get most of the at-bats and playing time at first base, with Travis Ishikawa assuming a more limited role.

"Professional hitter, really punishes left-handed pitching," Sabean said. "It complements what we're trying to do to develop Ishikawa. The timing was right. He can drive in a run. He can hit a three-run homer. ... The pitcher we gave up is probably going to pitch in the big leagues. I think it was good for both clubs."

The sides began talking several weeks ago, Sabean said.

The Indians see Barnes as a starter one day. He will initially report to the club's Class A affiliate in Kinston, N.C.

Their season sabotaged by first-half injuries, the Indians are already looking toward next season. Last week, they traded reliever Rafael Betancourt to Colorado for minor league pitcher Connor Graham and there's a chance Cy Young winner Cliff Lee and All-Star catcher Victor Martinez could be dealt before the July 31 deadline.

General manager Mark Shapiro said he will continue to explore trade possibilities.

"We're doing our job," he said. "But I have no ability to forecast whether or not we will have another move."

Garko started out as a catcher in Cleveland's organization, but was switched to first base in 2007. With Andy Marte having a turnaround season at Triple-A Columbus, the Indians wanted to give him more at-bats and dealing Garko was the only way that was going to happen.

Marte, once considered the Indians' third baseman of the future, was designated for assignment during spring training. However, he has been one of the organization's bright spots this season, batting .327 with 18 homers and 66 RBIs in 82 games with the Clippers.

Shapiro said the 25-year-old Marte will be brought up Tuesday in time for Cleveland's game in Los Angeles.

"He has never given in while other guys would have found excuses," Shapiro said. "He has made some adjustments and shortened his swing."

Garko, a former All-American and 2003 Johnny Bench Award winner as the best college catcher, finished his Stanford career with a .350 batting average, 60 doubles, 39 home runs and 191 RBI in 218 games.

Leading up to the trade deadline, Sabean is still actively listening to two teams about a player not on the major league roster.

Also Monday, the Giants recalled infielder-outfielder Eugenio Velez and infielder Jesus Guzman from Triple-A Fresno.

Both players were in the starting lineup for the opener of a three-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates, with Guzman playing first base and batting sixth and Velez in left field and batting seventh.

The Giants also optioned infielder-outfielder John Bowker and infielder Matt Downs to Fresno.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.