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Top '13 Stories: #6 - Justin Morneau Traded

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ID:	6229August 31st marked the end of an era for the Minnesota Twins. Justin Morneau had been a cornerstone for perennial contenders, and although those days were long past by the time of his departure, the fans never forgot.

In the big picture, the decision to trade Morneau was essentially a no-brainer. Still, one got the sense that it didn't come easily.

The Twins were going nowhere, and dealing the impending free agent allowed them to recoup some value while also providing Morneau with the luxury of joining a playoff team. Although the veteran first baseman's performance was nondescript during five weeks with the Pirates, he showed an improved plate approach on a much bigger stage, which might have contributed to his landing a two-year deal with the Rockies earlier this month.

In giving up just one month of Morneau's services, the Twins got back Alex Presley, who became the regular in center field and seems likely to maintain that role at the start of 2014. They also got reliever Duke Welker, who they later swapped for lefty starter Kris Johnson.

Presley is better suited as a fourth outfielder and Johnson probably won't pitch in the majors unless he can replicate his 2013 success at Triple-A (he went 10-4 with a 2.39 ERA in 135 innings for Indianapolis), but they're still not bad additions to the system.

Any glimmer of hope that Morneau might return was squashed when Joe Mauer was officially tabbed as a first baseman going forward, so Twins fans will have to watch from afar as the longtime staple seeks to rekindle his career in a new setting.

He could hardly find a better home than Coors Field to do so.
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