Marte, who has been tearing up International League pitching this year, will take the first-base at-bats that Garko is leaving behind. The Indians, meanwhile, will avoid giving Garko a hefty raise in his first round of arbitration this winter.
Also at the root of the deal, of course, was the Tribe's desire to acquire pitching to bolster the farm system.
"We were able to acquire a pitcher we like by dealing from an area of depth," general manager Mark Shapiro said.
This trade wasn't just about clearing room for Marte, as top prospect Matt LaPorta has also been getting regular time at first base in recent weeks and will certainly be with the Tribe in September, if not sooner.
But Marte is getting the first crack at Garko's spot. He's earned it by batting .330 with a .970 OPS at Columbus. Marte has cranked out 18 homers, 24 doubles and one triple while driving in 66 runs for the Clippers. This breakout season has come after the Indians had all but written off Marte.
When they acquired him from the Red Sox as part of the 2006 trade that sent Coco Crisp to Boston, the Indians thought Marte would be their third baseman of the future. In 150 games with the Tribe, Marte hit .219 with nine homers and 48 RBIs. The Indians removed him from the 40-man roster during Spring Training this year, and nobody claimed him on waivers. A humbled Marte went back to Triple-A and has done nothing but hit.
"Many guys would have found excuses and not taken accountability for what's happened," Shapiro said. "[Marte] has made adjustments and shortened his swing. He's played great defense and gone down and worked hard."
Garko is a hard worker who made the move from catcher to first base when the Indians locked Victor Martinez up with a long-term contract and added the corner outfield to his workload this spring, when the Indians wanted him to be more versatile. But the Tribe never seemed enamored with Garko as their primary first baseman. And with Garko likely to command more than $2 million in arbitration, the Tribe cut the cord.
For Garko, the trade is an opportunity to play for a contending team near his Stanford alma mater.
"It's bittersweet," Garko said. "The Indians are the only team I ever played for. It's going to be hard to go, but I'm going to an organization in the Giants that is right in the middle of things, too. So it's mixed emotions."
In Barnes, the Tribe acquired a player who was ranked as the No. 9 prospect in the Giants' system by Baseball America entering this season.
The 21-year-old Barnes was 12-3 with a 2.85 ERA in 18 starts for Class A San Jose in the California League. He was leading the league in wins, was second in ERA, and his 99 strikeouts were tied for ninth overall.
Barnes, who will report to Class A Kinston, was an eight-round pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft out of St. John's University. He is listed at 6-foot-4, 185 pounds.
"He has an average fastball, a plus-changeup and the makings of a plus-curveball," Shapiro said. "We think he has the makings of a potential starting left-handed pitcher."
Barnes is the third Minor League pitcher acquired by the Tribe in the past week. On Thursday, the Indians received Double-A right-hander Connor Graham in the trade that sent Rafael Betancourt to the Rockies. And on Sunday, they added Triple-A right-hander Jess Todd as the player to be named from the June trade that sent Mark DeRosa to the Cardinals.
While Todd is expected to be with the Major League club by season's end, Graham and Barnes have some development ahead before they enter the big league picture.
With Friday's 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline looming, the Indians continue to be the subject of many a trade rumor -- all of them involving ace left-hander Cliff Lee and the All-Star catcher Martinez. While not addressing those players specifically, Shapiro gave no indication as to whether or not another deal will be made.
"I have no ability to forecast whether we'll make any moves," he said.