2011 Trade Value: #46 – #41

#50-#46

Please click on the above link for an explanation of the methodology if you haven’t read it yet.

Moving on to the next five, we turn heavily towards to the AL East and look at three five-tool outfielders in the process.

Rank – Player – Position – Team – Past 3 Calendar Year WAR

#45 – Matt Wieters, C, Baltimore: +5.5 WAR

If we view Wieters through the lens of what he was supposed to be, he’s a massive disappointment and probably doesn’t deserve to be on this list at all. However, if we look at what Wieters actually is, he’s a 25-year-old switch-hitting catcher on pace for a +4 win season. He’s not what he was hyped up to be, but there’s still room for future growth and he’s a productive player at a premium position already. Catchers often develop later than other positions anyway, and with four more years of team control after 2011, the Orioles have time to be patient. He might not ever become what he was supposed to be, but given his current value and still-untapped potential, Wieters would command a pretty significant return if the Orioles decided to give him up.

#44 – Curtis Granderson, OF, New York Yankees: +13.8 WAR

Already a pretty good player, Granderson’s power spike has made him one of the best players in baseball this year, and with two years remaining on his contract after this season at a grand total of $23 million, he’s also one of the biggest bargains of any current All-Star. However, his inconsistent career and the fact that he’s now 30-years-old depress his value a bit, as it is tough to say exactly what a team would be getting going forward. Still, this kind of present value at such a low salary is remarkably valuable, and even if Granderson isn’t a long term asset, he makes up for it by what he can provide for the next 2 1/2 years.

#43 – Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Boston: +8.6 WAR

I didn’t set out to have these two next to each other, but it may be for the best that it worked out that way. Like Granderson, Ellsbury offers another 2 1/2 seasons of team control, and like Granderson, his up-and-down career makes it tough to peg exactly what he is. However, his monstrous first half to begin this year has re-established his value after a lost 2010 season, and adding power to an already broad base of skills makes him a guy that should be able to maintain a decent amount of his present value. He’ll get a pretty nice raise in arbitration this winter, but he’ll still be significantly underpaid, and given the dearth of quality offensive center fielders in baseball, Ellsbury is the kind of guy that most teams in baseball would love to have.

#42 – Robinson Cano, 2B, New York Yankees: +14.7

While Cano’s raw stat line has regressed from last year, his performance relative to league average has actually held fairly steady – his 135 wRC+ from this year isn’t that far off his 142 mark from last year. He has established himself as a top-shelf player even in spite of some flaws in his game, and at $29 million in total salary in 2012 and 2013, he offers elite performance at non-elite rates. If you sense a theme in the last couple of write-ups, you’re on the right pace; this is about where I figured that good players with 2 1/2 years of team control at below market (but not minimum-ish) salaries should fall.

#41 – Colby Rasmus, OF, St. Louis – +8.6 WAR

One of the biggest fallers on this list from a year ago, Rasmus doesn’t have injury to blame for his slide from the #14 position on the 2010 list. Instead, he just hasn’t been that good since we last published the trade value series, hitting .255/.338/.423 over the past calendar year. Rasmus strikes out enough that he has to hit for a good amount of power to offset the whiffs, and when he’s not bashing the baseball with regularity, he’s more of a useful player than any kind of franchise cornerstone. There’s value in a 24-year-old center fielder with a career 109 wRC+, but Rasmus is not yet an elite player and he’s headed for arbitration at the end of the season. There’s still room for him to become a franchise player, but right now, his value is more potential than production.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


69 Responses to “2011 Trade Value: #46 – #41”

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  1. SC2GG says:

    Last year I bet the Cards would have traded Rasmus for Granderson, just so Mozeliak could trick Larussa into playing his CF with regularity. This year? Maybe not. Maybe they had a talk.

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  2. Yuni B says:

    It’s nice to know I’m in the top 40.

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  3. Mike B. says:

    I believe that the Seattle Mariners should take a chance on Colby Rasmus. He seems to have worn out his welcome in St. Louis (last year, actually) and would fit nicely in LF while sharing CF duties with the ailing Gutierrez. Also, his left-handed batting would be a good match for the Safe.

    Granderson is a curious player; talk about fluctuations–aberrant defensive metrics, parabolic strikeout rate (look at 2004-2011 K%), serious HR power. He did hit 23 triples in 2007, some of which would’ve been HRs in the new Yankee stadium. He’s of average size and seems to be in impeccable shape, so hopefully he won’t decline for several years. A very enjoyable player to watch.

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    • Person says:

      And, once he finally is done, he’d be a good addition to any announcer booth.

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      • My echo and bunnymen (Dodgers Fan) says:

        He DID just say wrestling is a sport, and not the greco-roman type.
        So good?

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      • Cuban Pete says:

        He would be selling himself short in the booth and depriving many people of his ability to communicate. He should hit the speechifying circuit as a motivational speaker. I see high-level national politics in his future.

        Or the Today show. It’s a toss-up.

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  4. Person says:

    I dunno, you forgot to credit Simmons this time. BEWARE! You might have to do it every time to stay safe! ;)

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  5. V says:

    I have to be one of the few people that believes the post-August 2010 Granderson is here to stay. Given that belief, I’d definitely rate him a bit higher on the list, but I can see how someone who doesn’t wouldn’t. All it takes is the right trade partner though (not that the Yankees are usually in the market of trading a Granderson or Cano away)…

    One quibble on his salaries though – he gets raises on his team option for making All Star games and finishing in top 5 of MVP votes; so he’s really likely going to be $25M for 2012-2013.

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    • chuckb says:

      I don’t know. I’ve always been a Granderson fan but there’s no way he’s THIS good!

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      • test says:

        Beware – Jays fans told themselves that last year, and it turned out that Bautista was actually better than his breakout year. So, hey, maybe the Yankees lucked into a superstar (instead of a mere all-star). I hate the Yankees…

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  6. V says:

    Any idea what comps we should be looking at re: Ellsbury’s arbitration raises? Skills wise, he’s very similar to a young Carl Crawford (with more injuries), but Crawford signed a team friendly deal buying out his arbitration and some free agency years.

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    • V says:

      I guess Michael Bourn might be a decent comp, maybe give him a little more for his pop. $5M in 2012, $8-10M in 2013?

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  7. Pierre says:

    aren’t Cano and Granderson a little expensive to be on this list? I’d take Wieters or Rasmus way sooner.

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    • V says:

      A 4.5-5 WAR guy is more expensive than a 3 WAR guy, in general.

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    • Telo says:

      If only we had a projected WAR over the rest of their existing contract, with an estimation of surplus value next to it, you’d have an answer to this exact question!

      Ok, I’m done. This series is enjoyable but lacks real analysis. I just may have to do my own top 25 so everyone can see how it should actually be done.

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      • slamcactus says:

        The problem with projected WAR as I see it is that projection systems tend to go with the median, and those numbers will anger more people than they’ll satisfy.

        I’m totally happy with the qualitative comparison here. It’s a great discussion piece. And this way gives much less fodder for future “ZOMG DAVE CAMERON ONLY PROJECTED PLAYER X FOR 10 WAR IN 3 YEARS AND HE HAS 15! WHAT A MORON!” comments.

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      • Telo says:

        The point is consistency through methodology. Sure, we can take Dave Cameron’s super awesome list and read it for fun, and it will be a nice read. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it has potential to be so much better.

        We could create a list that uses a consistent way to estimate WAR over the next 1-4 years – not an easy task at all, but consistency is everything. Take the WAR over the past three years, use a weighting system, then you have a current true talent in WAR. Then apply an aging curve. What you’re left with is a consistent measure of future value. Take that and apply it to the contract, get the marginal value. The point is, you can quantify alot of the stuff that is being glossed over. I’ll do it. It’ll be up in a few days.

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      • V says:

        Exactly – I tried doing my own back of the envelope analysis (just comparing Granderson, Cano, Ellsbury, and Wieters), but it really boils down to how you project WAR. It’d be nice if you came up with a system everyone would agree with for projecting 10th-90th percentile 2013 values, but you can’t and won’t.

        Essentially, just looking at these 4, if Ellsbury and Wieters perform as they have thus far in 2011 over the life of their team control, they will be AMAZING assets for the amount of money they cost (in the realm of 300-500%), compared to Cano and Granderson, who are each merely worth 150-200% what they cost.

        However, Cano and Granderson in my (amateur) opinion have had more time to solidify their value – they are much less likely to bust. In other terms, the 70th+ percentile values for the four is likely to benefit the cheaper players more, but the 30th- percentile values are likely to benefit the veterans more. The 50th percentile is a guessing game.

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      • Telo says:

        V – Exactly right. It’s a guessing game. So we make educated guesses at their value, and rank them using a consistent methodology, THEN we are in a perfect place to say “Well, I think player X will outperform this WAR estimation, so I’d put him a few notches higher”. We have no baseline. Just paragraphs

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      • BillWallace says:

        Telo I agree with you completely. Although I’m going to enjoy this series anyway, all I can think about when I’m reading these is I wonder what a good estimate of future WAR value over contract for this guy would be, and how it compares to the others on the list.

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      • The Ancient Mariner says:

        Telo, I swear, I’ve never seen anyone as obsessive as you about missing the point. But then, that’s the only way to pursue your primary purpose — to wit, disagreeing with anything Dave Cameron writes.

        “Consistency through methodology” as you define it would be exactly the wrong approach, because (aside from the trendy error of using “methodology” when one actually means “method”) that assumes that every franchise values players the same way, on the same scale — which is patently false. But since your brain shuts down any time Dave Cameron writes anything, here’s the point from one of the commenters on the “What I Learned” post, Economan:

        1) In trades, teams are showing at least in part that they have different discount rates. A team whose window for winning is open now, like the Brewers, is likely to be shopping for someone who will provide returns now. To them, Bryce Harper isn’t that valuable, as the teetering structure this team is built on will most likely have crashed by the time Harper is hitting his stride in the majors. To make any one set of trade rankings is to presume that everyone is using the same discount rate, and that’s patently false. Does that mean you shouldn’t do it? No, but then don’t beat yourself up about overvaluing the future. Why?

        2) Predicting the future is effing hard. All kinds of stuff happens: people get injured, prospects pan out or don’t (or go become priests, like Grant Desme). Unless you have a better algorithm for making these predictions, Dave, I don’t see much need to mess with the system. You can up the across-the-board discount rate you’re using to account for more uncertainty, and then maybe your list will be more in line with the values put on players by the WIN NOW teams, but the cost there is accuracy to potential sellers, who lower discount rates. I mean, are you kicking yourself for ranking Hanley so high? Seriously? No one predicted this year, and no one could.

        To apply Economan’s point specifically to your position, to think that you can rank trade value purely as a matter of mathematical relation of projected marginal wins to contract “is to presume that everyone is using the same discount rate, and that’s patently false.” Dave Cameron has dealt with Economan’s point by trying to factor in different teams’ discount rates, and (essentially) go with the highest that would apply for each individual player; you’re trying to collapse it back down to one set of criteria, arguing for a return to simplistic analysis with no awareness of context.

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      • Sultan of Schwinngg says:

        If I were to redo this thing, money would have little to do with it. Costly players are generally veteran players, and if you’re running a playoff contender and seeking improvement, those vets are who you are seeking. You’re not going ga-ga over some kid who’s cheap because he’s thrown up a couple of decent seasons.

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      • GiantHusker says:

        Ancient Mariner’s argument amounts to this: You can’t do it perfectly, so don’t even bother to try.
        Although I am grateful, despite my frequent negative comments, to Cameron for publishing this list, a consistent methodology would improve it immensely.
        I look forward to Telo’s list.

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      • cs3 says:

        soooo what youre saying is… you are really NOT done?

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  8. Person says:

    Say, would it be possible on the last 40 at least to include their ranking from last year (or that they were not ranked). I know it gets mentioned in some of the writeups but it might be something to just include in the base line.

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  9. Telo says:

    Oh man, wonder if this gets moderated…

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  10. Chair says:

    So you wouldn’t trade Granderson for Kemp? Sure Granderson has an extra year, but Kemp is younger and better. The possible reward if you manage to extend Kemp long term is greater than if one were to lock up Granderson, another point in Kemp’s favor.

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    • philosofool says:

      Read the first post on methodology. It’s about how much demand there would be for player X if player X were on the block. Just because player X is ranked higher than player Y doesn’t mean that you’d trade player X for Y. “X > Y” means people who would pay for X would pay more than people who would pay for Y.

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      • Chair says:

        I’m not comparing Kemp’s skill vs Granderson’s straight up. I’m questioning whether two cost controlled years of Granderson would be more in demand than 1 arb controlled year of Kemp. Personally I think the higher upside, younger age, and more attractive potential long term deal would push Kemp over Granderson.

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      • Hank says:

        Chair- But won’t a future extension of Kemp in all likelihood price him more closely to his actual market value? He’s less likely to be a “bargain” if you are planning on resigning him (I guess I really should say you have no way of knowing whether he will be over or underpaid when he hits FA). Part of the whole trade value concept here I think is not just team control but team control at a below market contract. I don;t know why you are assuming any Kemp extension will be ‘attractive’ when we have no idea what he is looking for.

        I don’t see how you can accurately factor in a potential Kemp extension in the value equation… maybe Kemp wants to hit the open market and get paid…. maybe he’ll want to go back to the Dodgers as a FA…. maybe he gives a massive discount for a longer contract and stability… maybe he has a specific team he want to play for.

        The only real way to do this exercise is to consider what the player is currently under control for, the actual contract $ (or estimated if it’s an arbitration period) and his expected value in that period.

        Also your perceived demand (and basing it on extension likelihood) is based in large part on who the trade partner is (and their payroll, prospect pipeline, etc). what if he wanted 23mil per for his extension years and Granderson’s wanted 15mil per? What if Kemp wants a minimum 6 or 7 year extension? There’s just too many assumptions and unknown variables

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  11. kid says:

    Why has Rasmus struggled so mightily for most of 2011? His contact rate and batted ball profile are very good (hitting a few more pop-ups than usual), and his strikeouts are way down. His peripherals are even better than they were last year when he posted a .366 wOBA. Curious.

    Some people want to buy Granderson as a new player as a Yankee, but I don’t. He’s still the same guy who hits .270 and gets on base at a .350-.360-ish clip, but the big difference so far in 2011 has obviously been the power. Specifically, a 21% HR/FB rate versus his career rate of 13%. 21% HR/FB is a big, big number for any player; it’s better than the career numbers of Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Fielder and Nelzon Cruz. Watch that rate sink back towards 15% or so (the best he’s ever posted in a full season). I’ll give some credit to the porch in the NY stadium, but not that much.

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    • According to Stat Corner, the HR splits in Yankee Stadium are 130 / 111 (L/R), favoring left handers to a serious tune. No, it doesn’t explain why Granderson has hit more home runs on the road in fewer games. I’m just saying.

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    • JeremyR says:

      In all honesty, I think he was just really lucky last year (his BABIP was quite high) and it’s more reasonable this year.

      I honesty think he’s more a .340-345 wOBA guy than .360

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      • Hank says:

        His career wOBA is .361….

        So I understand, your assessment is that his true wOBA is more likely to be 15-20 points below the #’s he’s put up over 5-6 years?

        His BABIP last year was ,277…. you’re belief is that is high and represents him having a lucky year? You sure about that?

        His BABIP this year is .293 which compared to last year is somehow less lucky? (and given the # of HR’s, this seems high)

        hmmmm…. not sure if you are trying to undersell Granderson or just badly misinterpreting some of the #’s

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      • Hank says:

        Crap….. sorry JeremyR….

        Thought you were talking about Granderson (I mistakenly thought you were replying to the comment directly above yours) and didn’t realize you were talking about Rasmus.

        My apologies…. (I should have realized I was reading something wrong)

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      • Mr wOBAto says:

        I would disagree that we know what this guy’s true talent level is yet. Rasmus had a down June, a .227BABIP and a 7% BB% drug his wOBA down to .227 for that month. his two months before that were solid .384 and .351 wOBAs in April and May. Just like with Cargo I think we can look at his month to month splits and see a player who is still working on consistency.

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  12. BIP says:

    Brian Cashman apparently thinks Cano should be much higher on this list.

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    • ToddM says:

      Hmm. Not really.

      There’s only one Yankee that could appear going forward (ARod makes BANK), and that’s Sabathia. Thus, Cano is the Yanks’ “most valuable” position player.

      Of course, he also ranked Cano above any Red Sox player, right? That’s not going to work out on this list.

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      • Go To War Miss Agnes says:

        Sabathia can opt out of his contract at the end of this year. He’s not going to be on this list.

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  13. Marc says:

    I’m curious to see where Strasburg would place, if at all.

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    • Person says:

      Here’s guessing he won’t be here. Quite a drop from last year’s #3, but I’m not sure anybody is going to trade for a pitcher who has still yet to pitch after TJS.

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      • Nick V says:

        Huh? You don’t think teams would trade for Strasburg? I’m guessing he’s on the list, but of course a drop from #3…

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      • Well-Beered Englishman says:

        The Nationals have traded for two (!) pitchers who were still rehabbing after TJS – Luis Atilano, who made a few meh starts last year, and Ryan Mattheus, now playing in a bullpen near you.

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  14. Barkey Walker says:

    Damn, another year without a single Twins player on the list. Curst you six!

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  15. Telo says:

    I have a small penis and for some reason I think I’m important even though no one cares what I think because I’m a nobody. I’m also painfully unaware that the fact that I need further analysis to understand something that other people understood without it makes me look like an idiot, but for some reason I think it makes me look like I’m smarter. I’m a sad and lonely person.

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    • Well-Beered Englishman says:

      You could have saved a lot of words and repetition by just writing

      “I’m a Mariners fan.”

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  16. jpg says:

    @ Telo – thanks man, it all makes sense now.

    @ everyone – I’m fairly new to FG so I’m probably just confirming what seems to be the obvious but…… did Simmons catch a titty attack and claim the Dave stole his work or something?

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  17. Blue says:

    Number of GMs who would choose Wieters over Hosmer = 0.

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    • chuckb says:

      Quite wrong. Hosmer’s a nice player but there’s something to be said for a young, cost-controlled, power hitting catcher over a first baseman. One end of the defensive spectrum to the other.

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    • DCUnited says:

      I’ll take the currently all around catcher over the 1B with the potentially special bat every time. The 5+ WAR catcher at 25 years old isn’t easy to find. It’s likely a no lose situation with those two.

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    • ToddM says:

      I’m no GM, but I’d *definitely* take Wieters over Hosmer.

      Wieters is a very good defensive catcher. Do you realize what kind of bat Hosmer’s going to have to show just to match Wieters at the latter’s current level of offensive productivity? If Wieters continues to slowly progress with the stick, Hosmer would need to be near Pujols to be as valuable, which isn’t very likely.

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      • Blue says:

        Then your team would be far worse off. This isn’t fantasy baseball–big sticks with reall offense win games.

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      • ToddM says:

        I wish I was a real GM, and I definitely wish you were another GM in my fantasy world. Simple-minded folk that make sweeping generalizations that are manifestly wrong make great trading partners.

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  18. Raj says:

    Curious if Melky Cabrera will get ranked…and if so, where. Melky is in line for a 20/20 season w/ 200 hits, 97 runs and 90 RBI. Gardner was ranked 50th and he’s a year older.

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  19. Bim bim The Bastard says:

    I don’t understand #42…why would anyone want to trade for someone who hits .280/.320/.400 while playing awful defense? Surely this list is flawed…but how is that possible when the writer is so obviously a genius?

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