The right-hander, who has won 132 games in the majors for five teams, agreed Monday to a minor league contract with the Indians, who have four starting spots filled but want to add depth and experience.
Garland's deal is contingent on him passing a physical in the next week at the Indians' training complex in Goodyear, Ariz.
Garland's 2011 season was cut short by a shoulder injury. He went 1-5 with a 4.33 ERA in just nine starts for the Dodgers before shoulder surgery in July.
As long as he passes his physical, the 32-year-old Garland would get a shot to start for the Indians, who still don't know whether they will have the pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona in 2012. Carmona, whose real name according to officials in the Dominican Republic is Roberto Heredia Hernandez, is facing charges of using a false identity in his native country so he could play in the U.S. He was arrested last month and placed on baseball's restricted list.
The Indians have no idea if or when Carmona will be cleared. Also, he could be facing additional penalties if he is permitted to return to the U.S.
The decision to bring in Garland is a low-risk, high-reward move for the Indians, who have four pitchers -- Ubaldo Jimenez, Justin Masterson, Derek Lowe and Josh Tomlin -- projected as starters. The club acquired Kevin Slowey in a trade from Colorado in the days after learning of Carmona's legal troubles, but Garland could be in the mix for the fifth spot with Slowey, David Huff, Zach McAllister and Jeanmar Gomez.
Garland's impressive resume includes two 18-win seasons (2005, 2006) for the Chicago White Sox. He has won at least 12 games seven times and pitched at least 200 innings in six seasons.
Garland won 14 games for the San Diego Padres in 2010. He has also pitched one season for Arizona.
Los Angeles signed Garland to a $5 million, one-year contract before last season. The team declined an $ 8 million option in October.
Garland has a 132-119 record with a 4.32 ERA in 330 starts.