The Pittsburgh Pirates have proved their staying power this season with top-flight pitching and strong performances by young position players, but the organization continued on Saturday to improve its lineup with the acquisition of left-handed slugger Justin Morneau in a trade with the Minnesota Twins.
The 32-year-old Morneau, an 11-year veteran and 2006 American League MVP, was acquired for 28-year-old minor-league outfielder Alex Presley and a player to be named later or cash. Morneau, who is making $14 million this season, is in the final year of his contract.
The Pirates, who entered play Saturday tied for first place in the NL Central with the St. Louis Cardinals at 78-56, acquired outfielder Marlon Byrd and catcher Jack Buck from the New York Mets on Tuesday.
“We've got more depth, we've got more options than we had four days ago,” Pittsburgh Manager Clint Hurdle said. “We're a better team. We're a stronger team."
Morneau, who has 17 home runs and 74 runs batted in this season, is a lifetime .278 hitter. During a four-season stretch from 2006 to 2009, Morneau averaged 117 RBIs and hit 30 or more homers three times, but he only played in 150 games combined during the 2010 and 2011 seasons because of multiple injuries.
He has been particularly hot recently, hitting nine homers in August.
“I think he's found some ways to spark some things offensively in the second half,” Hurdle said.
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