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Giants could make Garko free agent

Giants' Garko could become free agent

SAN FRANCISCO -- The possible restructuring of the Giants' infield might proceed without first baseman Ryan Garko.

The 28-year-old appears to be the Giant most likely to jettisoned as Saturday's 9 p.m. PT deadline for tendering 2010 contracts approaches. If Garko is not tendered a contract, he'll become a free agent.

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Expected to be a run producer after the Giants obtained him from Cleveland for Minor League left-hander Scott Barnes on July 27, Garko hit .235 with two home runs, 12 RBIs and an OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) of .637. This represented a significant dropoff from Garko's performance with Cleveland. In 408 games with the Indians from 2005-09, he batted .283 with 53 homers and an .805 OPS.

Economics partly account for Garko's potential departure. He's eligible for salary arbitration, a process which would virtually guarantee him a significant pay increase from his 2009 base salary of $446,100. Moreover, the Giants are pursuing free-agent first basemen Nick Johnson and Adam LaRoche. Signing either would make Garko expendable.

The rest of the Giants' infield could have a different look in 2010. Free agent Mark DeRosa could become the regular third baseman if signed, prompting Pablo Sandoval to move to first. The Giants also are believed to be continuing trade talks with the Florida Marlins regarding second baseman Dan Uggla, whose arrival probably would cause second baseman Freddy Sanchez to move to third.

The Giants will be watching the list of non-tendered players closely to lengthen their list of player-acquisition options. Tampa Bay catcher Dioner Navarro, Kansas City catcher John Buck and Colorado corner infielder Garrett Atkins are among performers the Giants might consider if they're non-tendered.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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