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  • Did the Twins Win or Lose the Trade Deadline?


    Cody Christie

    Every trade deadline, teams are declared winners or losers. So, how did the Twins fare on a whirlwind day?

    Image courtesy of © Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

    DH Nelson Cruz to Rays for RHPs Joe Ryan and Drew Stotman

    Many of the Twins' moves project to have positive results. On an expiring contract, Nelson Cruz was dealt for two pitchers that are close to big-league ready. There are plenty of questions about the team’s rotation for 2022, so adding two more pitchers to the mix can only help the organization’s pitching depth. The Cruz deal was far from the only one that made headlines.

    RHP Jose Berrios to Blue Jays for SS/OF Austin Martin and RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson 

    José Berríos was dealt for a pair of top-100 prospects, which seems like a high price to pay for just over a year of Berríos. The Dodgers traded for starting pitcher Max Scherzer and shortstop Trea Turner and received a similar trade package in return. Even the website, Baseball Trade Values believes the Blue Jays overpaid.

    LHP J.A. Happ to Cardinals for RHP John Gant and LHP Evan Sisk

    Speaking of teams that overpaid, the Twins found a taker for JA Happ, as the Cardinals were willing to trade for him. He’s been bad for most of the season, and his recent numbers don’t point to him improving. It seemed more likely for the Twins to designated him for assignment instead of finding a trade partner, but it was a crazy trade deadline, to say the least.

    RHP Hansel Robles to Red Sox for RHP Alex Scherff

    Robles, like Cruz, was on an expiring contract and plenty of contenders were looking for relief help. Minnesota signed Robles for $2 million this off-season and he's had some up-and-down moments as part of a Twins bullpen that has struggled for the majority of the season. Relief pitching can be fickle and Boston hopes Robles can find some of his previous successes. From Minnesota's perspective, the front office has to be happy to get any value back for a player that wasn't part of the team's long-term plans. 

    Who Wasn't Traded? 

    Not every part of the trade deadline was positive for the Twins. Minnesota had multiple players on expiring contracts that stayed with the team, including Michael Pineda and Andrelton Simmons. Pineda is the biggest head-scratcher as the trade market seemed hot for starting pitching. As the smoke cleared, the front office said the right things, but there doesn’t seem to be much value in keeping him around until season’s end.  

    There were plenty of other rumors circulating on Friday, including some big names for the Twins. There was a chance of a Byron Buxton deal with multiple teams interested in the centerfielder. For good reasons, Minnesota’s price was likely high, and there will still be an opportunity to revisit trades this winter. There may also be a chance to revisit a contract extension with Buxton, especially with the young core the organization has built in the minor leagues.

    Another missed opportunity was parting ways with Josh Donaldson, as his name had been out in the rumor mill throughout the last few weeks. Minnesota signed Donaldson to his four-year deal, knowing that he may decline toward the backend of the contract. He has been relatively healthy this year and producing as one of the league’s best third basemen. This trade deadline might have been his peak trade value, especially since it’s tough to imagine the Twins contending in 2022.

    Overall, this might go down as a franchise-altering day in Twins history. However, there were some missed opportunities along the way. Now it might be a couple of years before fans know if the team indeed won or lost the 2021 trade deadline.

    Do you think the Twins were winners or losers at the trade deadline? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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    I think the Twins did pretty well at the deadline. They did well in their trades of Berrios & Cruz, getting real value and quality players that are already playing and showing success at higher levels of the minors. They got rid of Happ, who had declined from being a solid pitcher in the first month or so of the season to a trash fire.

    The demerits are not moving Donaldson, Pineda, and Rogers (arguably Simmons too) but there are reasons for all of them, I think. We just don't know if there were good options for Donaldson that didn't require them eating far too much of the contract. He's still an excellent player when healthy and he's been pretty healthy this year so if they had to eat the rest of this year's salary (ok) and a big chunk of 2022 & 2023...then maybe not ok. Pineda is a guy they might be looking to keep to help anchor the rotation. Rogers was hurt and it probably tanked his value. Simmons is still a fine defender, but it didn't look like SS defense was an area of significant interest among contenders.

    I'd say they were slight winners by getting excellent value in the trades they made. It gets pulled back a little by not being able to make additional moves that seemed to make sense, but the net is still a positive for the Twins at the deadline.

    ESPN pegged them as losers...but most of that grade is influenced by the rotten season as a whole. That's fair, but looking at just the deadline moves, I'd say they "won" as much as you can when you're selling.

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    I don't consider trading Jose Berrios as winning in any way. That said - the stats say we won. I will miss him. I will hope we take a run at him when he hits free agency. Also sad to let Cruz go - but the return was over the top - and we can also sign him if we choose for next year. Smart day yesterday for the FO - and good on them for keeping Big Mike. I expect to see him back next year. 

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    While the market seemed hot for pitching it was almost exclusively better starting pitching than Pineda.

    I think it can be argued that Pineda is a better option than Lester and the Twins could have had a return of Lane Thomas. Thomas does have 4th OF potential but would the Twins have space for another OF on their 40 man roster this winter? Maybe. He could be a better to retain than Cave but is Cave someone that will be kept on the 40 this winter? Similar players will be available inexpensively this winter.

    Pineda might be a comp to Heaney. His ERA is better but Heaney has the better xFIP. Even if they could have substituted in Pineda for Heaney they are adding 25 year old AA starter Jason Junk who they would need to add to the 40 or expose in rule 5. I think the Yankees would prefer Heaney with his better health track record but maybe the Twins could have added another pitcher here.

    It seems at best the value of a starting pitcher like Pineda was a marginal prospect already on the 40 or needing to be added to the 40. These are the kinds of players they will find this winter DFA’d by other teams or exposed in the rule 5.

    I am scratching my head why a pitcher like Pineda or Heaney didn’t have a better market this year. Perhaps the supply of better starters brought down their value to players on the fringe of the 40 in return. Maybe retaining Pineda for two months has at least as much value.

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    All things considered, I think they did pretty well.  It sucks to lose Berrios, but I think the fact that they dealt him shows that they didn't believe they could re-sign him.  Given that, they did very well in dealing him.  I would have liked to see Simmons and Pineda dealt, but since they weren't, I think they'd be wise to pivot and extend Pineda.

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    Once you accept the epiphanies that a) Berrios was going to leave and b) this “window” had closed and a new one needs to be developed, then we won the trade deadline.

    Every deal we did was a positive, and, in the two cases of the Cruz and Berrios deals, a potentially big positive.

    Of the four deals we didn’t do (Donaldson, Simmons, Rogers, and Pineda), the biggest disappointment was not moving Donaldson. At his price, he is unlikely to prove any value to the team in 2023, let alone 2022. Simmons, meh, he’s gone next year anyway. Rogers, and Pineda (and even Maeda, Kepler, and possibly Sano) still could have reasonable priced option value to the 2023 club and could be moved next year if that’s not the case.

    I like this deadline for us.  Donaldson is really the only huge millstone around our necks re 2023.

     

     

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    I think the Twins did well but keeping Pineda was a legit mistake and they should get criticized for it.

    On the other hand, the Berrios trade was a very good one, easily the most important one this FO has made. That and the Cruz trade managed to upgrade the farm system pretty well.

    Rumors that they were trying to move Buxton pissed me off and I'm still not sure this FO has a plan but I think it's fair to say this was their best trade deadline and they "won" it.

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    Though I'm sad to see both Cruz and Berrios gone, looks tp me like the FO got a healthy return for both players. I'm shocked they got anything really for Happ, though it seems like the Cards had kind of given up on Danks, and I know nothing about the player they got from Boston. What I do know is the next 2 months could very well be very hard to watch as the major league teams beat up our minor league pitchers. The FO had better bring in at least 1 Top of the line starter and 2 avg. or better starters plus either through trades or free agency  and rebuild the bullpen before the start of next season if they want to have any chance of being competitive.

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    The Twins didn't make substantial moves after 2019 and they are still dealing with the fallout of that winter. Last winter Simmons was brought aboard to help with defense. The miss on pitching was big though and this season has just tumbled from one problem to another. The Cleveland team stands at .500 baseball while suffering far greater injuries and losses from last year. So, this July was a time to make attempts at improving the team for next year. We get prospects for Jose Berrios but now need to sign two free agent pitchers. Austin Martin can hit but his defense is faulty at this stage in his development and he doubles up on players like Polanco and Arraez. I'm ok with the recent moves because it seemed so inevitable. Berrios will be hard to replace. I was hoping for a blockbuster deal with San Diego to bring in a potential star (Abrams) and two  pitchers who might be useful soon (from among Weathers, Gore, Paddock, Cleavinger) and thought taking Myers or Hosmer back might bring this about. However, it is easily understandable from both sides why this trade did not evolve, although San Diego may regret missing the boat at the deadline. 

    If the Twins are open to a payroll of $150 million there may be opportunities to bring in arms like Rodon and Syndergaard, but signing free agents can be tough and hoping for prospects to fill the top two spots in the rotation rarely works successfully. Thus, the trades are just even until the offseason strategies unfold. Will the Twins continue to overlook the huge deficiencies of Garver behind the plate because he can crush pitches; does Sano ever return to a more balanced approach at the plate; where does Arraez play; do the Twins believe that either Larnach or Rooker can learn to play passable defense or crush at a rate to make defense irrelevant? This team has a bevy of issues and the pitching is most concerning of all right now. Kirilloff, Polanco, Donaldson, Kepler, and Buxton are not my biggest concerns and I am open to all trades if they actually improve the team. Buxton would require more than Berrios in my book, but I am hopeful. The trades did bring in some talent and that may be quite positive as soon as next year; at least we all are waiting for the prospects and new guys to succeed.

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    Trading Happ is an A+.

    Trading Berrios is a statement that the Twins will not commit to pay for a quality starter.  No matter how people debate his ACE status (a worthless discussion) he is the best we have now and the best we have had since Santana.  It will take a long time for one of the prospects to be as good as he is right now. Accepting that we were not going to sign him we made a good trade, but not as good as it sounds for this reason.  As the CBA now stands we would have gotten one draft pick for him so our overall haul was really one prospect.  So I give the Berrios trade a C. 

    Trading Robles is a wash.  I do not know about the prospect, but I do know Robles had a very uneven year, but much better than the other big signing - Colome.  Give this a C.

    Not trading Pineda is a fail.  

    Not trading Donaldson, Simmons, Colome, Kepler and anyone else is also a Fail.  So I understand the ESPN grade. 

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    I wonder about those above who are critical for the Twins talking about trading Buxton.  We don't know the context of how that happened.  As I read it, they received calls inquiring about Buxton.  Well, if someone calls you are gonna take it.  Doesn't mean you ever considered moving him which is what the end result was.

    Also agree with the general consensus that I will miss Berrios, a lot.  But after reading a national report that said the Jays got robbed and Nick's piece on Martin, I am excited that the return was big...really big.  

    As for winning or losing at the deadline, is a win for me...big one.  The two pitchers from Tampa for two months of Cruz is a huge return, much bigger than most expected.  Furthermore, it would not be a surprise if at least one of the two is pitching every fifth day at Target Field next spring.

    If the reports I read are true, the Twins won the Berrios trade even though we will miss a special young man.  Who knows, maybe the Twins go out and offer market value a year from this winter and he comes home...although I agree that would be contrary to how they usually do business.

    As for the Happ and Robles trade, I am amazed they got anything for that duo.  Yes, they had to eat an unknown part of their contracts for the next two months, but to get any return is flat out robbery...IMO.  And they got an actual major league pitcher as part of the Happ return.  To be honest, I don't understand either of these deals.

    So for me its a huge win.  Yes, there were others they didn't move.  But did anyone expect them to be able to move Donaldson and his huge contract?  Was a bit surprised that Pineda wasn't traded.  Left me wondering if they will sign him to a two year extension before the year ends.  But not knowing what, if anything, was offered for Pineda and others makes it hard to say they failed by not trading someone because if the offer wasn't adequate it makes sense to say no.

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    6 minutes ago, RpR said:

    It was a win, they did not gut the team for wishful thinking.

    That phrase keeps coming up. Who is to say what is "wishful" thinking? In a year or two, recurrence of injuries could mean that keeping Buxton and Donaldson will look wishful in hindsight.

    I don't think it's a useful way to characterize differences of opinion.

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    2 minutes ago, ashbury said:

    That phrase keeps coming up. Who is to say what is "wishful" thinking? In a year or two, recurrence of injuries could mean that keeping Buxton and Donaldson will look wishful in hindsight.

    I don't think it's a useful way to characterize differences of opinion.

    They have a solid idea of what Buxton and Donaldson can actually do; all the  rookies so babbled about here are unknown hopes, at best, i.e. wishful thinking.

    So far only Garlick, Refsnyder and Kirilloff have shown there pro-level abilities, all the rest have shown they belong in the minors as of now.

    Fans pay money for a top line professional team, not a  minor league training exercise. 

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    6 minutes ago, RpR said:

    They have a solid idea of what Buxton and Donaldson can actually do; all the  rookies so babbled about here are unknown hopes, at best, i.e. wishful thinking.

    Baseball is always about hope and wishful thinking.

    I'm glad they kept Buxton, but he's played in about 40% of the games over the past few seasons, so it's also "wishful thinking" that he'll play 100 or 120 or 140 games next season. 

    Donaldson is over 35 and susceptible to injuries as well, so one has to hope he can duplicate his production next year.

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    2 hours ago, jorgenswest said:

    I am scratching my head why a pitcher like Pineda or Heaney didn’t have a better market this year. Perhaps the supply of better starters brought down their value to players on the fringe of the 40 in return. Maybe retaining Pineda for two months has at least as much value.

    I think you're on the right track about that. General managers seem to assign steeper and steeper value to players who are well above average. The value of adding just 2 months (on an expiring contract) of someone average-ish just isn't that high anymore. But the value of adding someone like Scherzer is greatly esteemed. When I think about the constraints front offices have to manage (40-man and 26-man rosters being critical resources), I tend to think these valuations are correct.

    As for the trades: I like the Cruz trade even if the two MLB-ready prospects turn out like (say) Vance Worley and Trevor May, so give it an A+.  I am not as enthusiastic about the Berrios deal, for reasons I won't wax eloquent about here, but it's a high-upside gamble that deserves at least a B+ for its concept. Getting a little something in terms of prospect potential for Hansel Robles is not very meaningful but positive, so call it a C+ for good execution. I think I read that the deal for Happ included the Twins paying a good portion of the remaining contract, and the pitchers in return don't look so good after sleeping on it overnight, so that one is just a Gentleman's C as an addition-by-subtraction move as others have termed it.  I think they would have liked to move Donaldson's contract for just a bag of balls, in a vacuum, but didn't want to take the PR hit, I feel I understand his staying. Since I agree with your analysis on why Pineda (and by analogy the others on expiring contracts) wasn't moved, I don't have any major criticisms of the overall moves, so all in all I give the FO an A.

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    If the negotiations with Buxton were such they did not think they could sign him he might have been traded,

    The Berrios trade depends on how the prospects pan out. If Berrios is adamant about testing free agency the team can try their luck then. It could end up a real steal.

    The rest of the trades are something for nothing, and the prospects are free

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    I liked the Cruz and Berrios trades as I felt like the Twins got great value in those trades.  To be honest I think they got great value out of the Happ and Robles trades as well.  I mean just being able to get something for two under performing players shows they worked hard to make deals.

    I think, I think they made the right call on Pineda.  If they kind of wanted Pineda back next year then keeping him was the best way to accomplish that.  So the only way they were going to move him was with an overpay and apparently nobody wanted to do that. Trading just to trade doesn't always make sense and I think it sends a message to other FO's that they want value or they really will not trade said player.  If the return was low then I give them credit for not making a move there.  Pineda seems like he wants to sign here and has been a decent value for the Twins and keeping him will help make that happen.

    I am sure they tried to get rid of Simmons but the way he batted down the stretch I just don't see how a team would want such a black hole at the plate despite the good defense.  I was not surprised he didn't get moved.  His was a trade that I would have been happy with any return and or even as just a salary dump but I would guess the FO views that differently than I do.  Still not sure not trading him is a fail as he would have been a very hard sell.

    The only Donaldson news involved the Mets and included Maeda.  If Maeda was the key part of the deal and Mets still wanted money I would have said no way as well.  Not sure what would have been coming back in prospects but I doubt it would have been great for the Twins considering they would have had to pay significant cash.  Not having much for details they probably made the right decision there as well.

    For those that think Berrios will make it to FA I doubt that happens.  Toronto has to know what it will take to sign him long term and I would bet they lock him up in the offseason.

    I will miss Berrios the most but I think the Twins did the right thing trading him.  They have a lot of young quality pitching coming up so have to believe a couple of those guys will make it. They have room to add a good FA pitcher to replace Berrios for next year and with better years from Maeda and Pineda and likely better depth behind them I think their chance to be good to great are really pretty good.

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    The Twins were deadline winners. Almost every trade they made was viewed highly favorably, but yes, there were a couple moves they didn't make which are a bit perplexing. Simmons and Pineda still being on the roster makes no sense to pretty much anybody and I'm sure there was a market of some sort for both of them.

    I don't agree the Twins should have burned it all down if they are truly going to compete next year. Buxton and Rogers are still extension candidates, Donaldson is controlled for multiple years and can slot into DH as needed. For all the talk about his injury risk, Donaldson is 4th on the Twins for games played and the only time he's missed significant playing time this year is a sore hamstring at the very beginning of a season which saw catastorphic early season injury rates across the board.

    Now, if the Twins wind up being their typical selves in free agency, they are not going to compete next year and not starting the full rebuild is a major mark against the team.

     

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    5 minutes ago, bean5302 said:

     

    Now, if the Twins wind up being their typical selves in free agency, they are not going to compete next year and not starting the full rebuild is a major mark against the team.

     

    It has been 30 years since they have been in the World Series (20 years since they had a manager capable of guiding them to that point).

    Fans are money, the Vikings as lousy as they are bringing in fans, another decade of AAA level Twins will cost the Pohlads lots of money, and they realize that,  but arestill  too cheap to spend for, even two straight years , money to get there but then they are stuck with Baldelli and the current front office.

    Sign top veterans to two year contracts and get into the playoffs now, when they leave they will have a good idea of who, if any,  in the farm leagues are worth putting on the team.

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    Now it might be a couple of years before fans know if the team indeed won or lost the 2021 trade deadline.

    This statement sums it up. Open minded but skeptical on the Berrios trade. Wonder who is going to fill out the SP rotation next year? Wonder if keeping Pineda means they are re-signing him? Shocked SLC would take Happ. That was a stunner. Maybe they see him a LOOGIE.

    If nothing else, at least between Joe Ryan and Austin Martin we now have some of the very best hair-do's in MiLB. Wonder if FO will provide team stylist when these guys get their shot at the Bigs?

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    30 minutes ago, RpR said:

    It has been 30 years since they have been in the World Series (20 years since they had a manager capable of guiding them to that point).

    Fans are money, the Vikings as lousy as they are bringing in fans, another decade of AAA level Twins will cost the Pohlads lots of money, and they realize that,  but arestill  too cheap to spend for, even two straight years , money to get there but then they are stuck with Baldelli and the current front office.

    Sign top veterans to two year contracts and get into the playoffs now, when they leave they will have a good idea of who, if any,  in the farm leagues are worth putting on the team.

    I see nothing to indicate the Pohlad family is willing to "spend money to make money;" I believe that is a foreign concept to them when it comes to baseball. I also feel strongly the Pohlads are not interested in building a World Series caliber roster as I believe their primary desire is to field a team built to win 85-90 games and rely on luck the rest of the way. 

    Still, I hold out hope they will break the mold, make me eat crow and spend in free agency to address obvious needs for next year. Short term ace (like Verlander) plus a solid upper/mid rotation starter (like Stroman) along with a shortstop and cement their outfield.

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    1 hour ago, RpR said:

    They have a solid idea of what Buxton and Donaldson can actually do; all the  rookies so babbled about here are unknown hopes, at best, i.e. wishful thinking.

    So far only Garlick, Refsnyder and Kirilloff have shown there pro-level abilities, all the rest have shown they belong in the minors as of now.

    Fans pay money for a top line professional team, not a  minor league training exercise. 

    LOL..good one.  Almost every player in MLB history was in the minors at some point.  Almost 100% were not guarantees.  Apparently you do not like the way the game/business is structured.  Based on what you are saying teams should never bring up players from the minors, since we don't know how they will perform. And, just about every player that comes up for the first time(some times multiple times) has some struggles. That last statement is down right silly, honestly...LOL

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    1 hour ago, RpR said:

    Fans pay money for a top line professional team, not a  minor league training exercise.

    Pretty sure they charge for tickets to minor league games too, just perhaps not as much money, nor of quite so many fans...

     

    (well, there was this one time when the box office's credit card machine wasn't working, and they quietly gave tickets anyway, but that's just the exception (and not even one that proves the rule at that))

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    I have to give this trade season an Incomplete grade.  On the whole, the FO did well, especially on Cruz and Berrios.  A+ on those.  Unlike many, I give them high grades in keeping Donaldson,  Buxton, Kepler and even Sano.  If this team is to have any offense next year, they need this group to anchor the lineup.

    But the trade deadline moves are only a first step in return to respectability.  Resigning Pineda and Buxton are musts.  Signing a top FA pitcher is a must, as is acquiring at least two bullpen arms who can be depended on to close games.  Without these additional moves, we are looking at an extended rebuild.  If the Wonder Boys complete their mission, I'll be first in line to congratulate them!  IF they repeat 2021 mistakes(and we should know by midseason 2022, they should be shown the door.  Oh, and let's not forget need for ownership to be proactive in expanding payroll to invest in this brighter future.

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    You don't win a trade if after the trade the best player in the deal is playing for the other team.  Time will tell but unless one of the guys we got becomes an absolute stud, no, we did not win the day.  Look back at deadline deals in 2017 & 2018 and tell me who won?

     

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    I was just thinking of the Happ trade.  1.  I think the Cardinals think Happ can do better in the NL where the pitcher hits and will be able to get innings while having a 4-4.5 era.  2 They are getting him for no real cost since the Twins are paying his salary.  3 With the pitchers ST got would Gant be displaced by these pitchers so trading him is inconsequential to them and the Twins are also paying his salary.  4.  The minor leaguer they traded is a minor lottery ticket so again no real loss.  St Louis was able to move Gant's salary and get a free pitcher for a minor league reliever.  

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