First baseman Ryan Garko became the latest veteran player to be traded away by the Indians on Monday night, going to the San Francisco Giants. Cleveland got left-hander Scott Barnes, a 21-year-old having a strong season at Class A San Jose who will be assigned to Kinston of the Carolina League. Garko is heading "home" as he played collegiately at Stanford University in the San Francisco area.
Ironically, Garko was traded while the Indians are in Anaheim. He and Tribe outfielder Ben Francisco were teammates at Anaheim Servite High School. Francisco went to UCLA, Garko to Stanford, and were reunited when both were drafted by Cleveland in 2003.
Garko was selected in the third round as a catcher and switched to first base a few years later. He began playing the outfield this season.
"We made this trade for a couple of reasons," general manager Mark Shapiro said. "We want to get a look at a couple of people from Triple-A in Andy Marte and Matt LaPorta and we have the desire to always add pitching."
That desire cost the Indians a man who drove in 90 runs a year ago. Despite his early season struggles at the plate this year, Garko has 11 homers and a .285 average in 78 games.
Shapiro said Marte, who was released during the winter, but has rebounded to hit well at Columbus this summer, will join the Indians in Anaheim on Tuesday.
"Marte will get the first opportunity," Shapiro said. "He will get some time at first base and third. We want to find a way to get Andy at-bats. We like his bat and want to see if it plays and then figure out alternatives as to next year.
"Many guys would have made excuses, but Andy made swing adjustments and has ressurected a very promising career."
Shapiro likes Barnes -- the fourth pitcher he has added to the organization recently. The Indians got right-handers Chris Perez and Jess Todd from the St. Louis Cardinals for veteran Mark DeRosa, then added minor-leaguer Connor Graham from the Colorado Rockies for reliever Rafael Betancourt.
"Barnes is a big, tall athletic pitcher with a good changeup and fastball and has the makings of a good curve," Shapiro said. "We see him as a potentially good starting pitcher."
Shapiro said the Indians were not particularly displeased with Garko's production, but felt the opportunity to give time to LaPorta and Marte as well as add more pitching was too good to pass up.
"Ryan is a guy we are proud of as to his development," Shapiro said. "It is not as much about Ryan as the fact we have a lot of corner players and had the opporutnity to acquire a pitcher we wanted."
Shapiro said he expects Barnes and Graham to keep pitching in the minors and that Todd, experiencing success at Triple-A, will likely get called up later this year.
"I would expect to see Jess Todd in the big leagues at some time this year," he said. "Barnes will go to Kinston and could transition to Double-A ball.
"Todd is a bulldog makeup and has an above average fastball and good cutter. He has pitched well in late-game situations. We think he can be a very good piece of a major league bullpen in the future. He keeps the ball on the ground and is particularly good on right-handers."
Barnes, 21, was having a dominant season for San Jose in the California League, going 12-3 with a 2.85 ERA in 18 starts. In 98 innings pitched, he allowed 82 hits and 29 walks, striking out 99. Since June 11, he has gone 7-0 with a 1.59 ERA in eight starts, fanning 57 in 48 innings.
The 6-foot-4, 185 pound left-hander was an eighth-round selection in 2008 out of St. John’s University (NY). He went 3-3 with a 2.06 ERA in 11 games a year ago after signing his first professional contract.
Garko, 28, totaled 53 homers, 72 doubles, 180 runs, 235 RBI and a .283 average in 408 games for Cleveland.