By TOM WITHERS
AP SPORTS WRITER
CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians traded first baseman Eduardo Perez to the Seattle Mariners on Friday for minor league infielder Asbrudal Cabrera.
Dealing Perez could be the first of many upcoming moves by the Indians, who following a 93-win season in 2005 were expected to contend for a playoff spot. The club, though, has underachieved and entered Friday's game in Cincinnati 18 games behind the Detroit Tigers.
General manager Mark Shapiro hasn't given up on the season just yet.
"Our primary goal is to win as many games as possible, then look up and see where we are," he said. "We are not looking to dump players, not looking to dump salaries, but the standings always factor into decisions. Our primary motive is to look at guys who can impact on the short-term."
Shapiro feels Cabrera is one of those.
The Indians have had their sights on the 20-year-old, a slick fielder who can play shortstop or second base. Shapiro added that the trade wasn't a reflection of any dissatisfaction with shortstop Jhonny Peralta, who has struggled defensively this season for Cleveland, and there are no immediate plans to move him to third base or second.
"The standings played some role in the decision, but there was no monetary factor, no financial factor," said Shapiro, who signed Perez to a one-year, $1.7 million deal in January to platoon with Ben Broussard. "It was motivated by Cabrera. We foresee him as an everyday player either at shortstop or second base. He has above average ability at either position and it is hard to say which spot is better for him."
The Indians also recalled Ryan Garko, a power-hitting first baseman, from the Bisons. A former catcher, Garko batted .255 with 11 homers and 49 RBIs in 78 games. His arrival, and Victor Martinez's recent switch from full-time catcher to part-time first baseman, could lead to the Indians trading Broussard.
While outfielders Jason Michaels and Casey Blake are on the disabled list, Shapiro said Cleveland's platoon situation at first base will be fluid.
Used primarily against left-handers, the 36-year-old Perez batted .303 with eight homers and 22 RBIs in 37 games in his first season with the Indians.
The Mariners, who entered the weekend two games behind Oakland in the AL West, have struggled against lefties all season. Perez batted .330 against left-handers, but only .091 from the right side. Perez can pinch hit, back up Richie Sexson at first and play outfield if needed.
Cabrera batted .236 with 22 RBIs in 60 games at Triple-A Tacoma. He didn't make an error in his first 36 games and leads Pacific Coast League shortstops in fielding percentage.
"Cabrera is a special talent that the Mariners put on the fast track," Shapiro said. "He skipped Double-A, so there are some things he needs to go through, maturation included. I would like to think he could possibly be ready for the big-league level at midseason next year, but not probably not out of the gate. He could be a factor at age 22."