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matt garza cubsIt should come as no surprise, given the tenor of rumors over the past week (including many that placed near-certain odds on the Cubs dealing Matt Garza before his next start no Monday), that the Cubs are reportedly close to finalizing a deal involving the best pitcher on the market.

One of those earlier reports came from Buster Olney, who placed it at 80/20 that the Cubs would deal Garza not only before his next start, but by Friday. As in tomorrow.

And now Olney hears the Cubs might be making good on that timeline, asking teams for “best and final” offers. That comes from other team sources, who also believe Garza will be dealt before his scheduled start on Monday.

It’s a predictable, but laudable, approach by the Cubs’ front office in their efforts to maximize the return on Garza. While it might not be feasible to replicate in the prospect world, I wonder if the Cubs could even implement a proxy of the blind bidding system we’ve seen employed occasionally on the international free agent stage and frequently in the Japanese posting system – i.e., instead of taking the offers around and saying, “can you beat this? can you beat this?,” the Cubs simply say, “this is it: we’re accept the best offer we get today – make it a damn good one.” The theory behind the system is that it forces eager teams to bid against themselves, rather than merely having to top the erstwhile highest offer. If teams know that their “best and final” offer is going to be then taken around to other teams, they might still hold back on the offer, and the whole “best and final” thing is neutered.

Given the timing of the request for best and final offers, I have to believe the Cubs were indeed waiting for the Competitive Balance Lottery to pass to see if any of the interested teams would be able to supplement their offers with an extra draft pick. That doesn’t mean the Cubs will land a pick as a piece of the eventual deal, obviously, but the Cubs might as well see what’s out there in that regard.

Don’t assume that we’re going to hear a resolution on this ASAP, though. The call for best and final could be over the next few days, or it could have already been done, and the Cubs will want some time to mull it over. And it’s not like they have to accept one of the offers right now.

Apropos of … something? … nothing? … Olney followed up his “best and final” tweet with a couple points exclusively about the Rangers. Specifically, Olney noted that the Rangers are involved in these talks, and, if the Cubs are looking for pitching prospects, the Rangers can accommodate even without top young pitcher Martin Perez. Olney names C.J. Edwards and Luke Jackson as possibilities. Each is a quality arm still in the lower levels of the minors, and each is a fringe top 100 prospect (if you looked at the right list).

UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal suggests Olney’s tweets were apropos of something, saying “Sources: #Rangers “most motivated” on Garza, have had extensive talks with #Cubs.” He adds that a full story is coming. Dun dun dun …

UPDATE 2 (3:25pm CT): I should clarify something that a few of you discerning types have pointed out in the comments: it’s entirely possible (plausible, even?) that the Cubs already have an acceptable offer in hand from at least one team, and they’ve asked for best and final from everyone else, because they’re otherwise ready to pull the trigger. That gets away a bit from the blind bidding system (and its advantages), but seems more likely how these things play out.

UPDATE 3 (3:30pm CT): Jeff Passan says he hears that if Garza doesn’t go to the Rangers, the most likely other destinations are the Cardinals, the Red Sox, the Diamondbacks, and the Dodgers.

UPDATE 4 (3:37pm CT): Rosenthal’s piece (together with Jon Morosi) is up. It’s basically a more robust version of his tweet: the Cubs and Rangers have had extensive discussions, but other teams remain involved. The Rangers are the most “motivated” to get a deal done, but Rosenthal mentions the Dodgers, specifically, as another team involved. The Red Sox, Diamondbacks, Indians, and Cardinals have been involved, according to Rosenthal’s sources, but they haven’t wanted to meet the asking price for a rental.

UPDATE 5 (6:35pm CT): Gordon Edes reports that Clay Buchholz suffered a setback in his recovering from ongoing shoulder issues (bursitis) today. He was supposed to throw a bullpen session today, but it was scratched, and he’s due for reevaluation tomorrow. There has been some thinking that the Red Sox’s interest in picking up a pitcher was tempered by their confidence that Buchholz could return soon. If that’s no longer the case, will they become more eager to make a deal for, say, Garza? There is some logic there, but it all depends on Buchholz’s prognosis and the Red Sox’s willingness to roll the dice. They’re a good trading partner for the Cubs for a number of reasons (deep farm system, great upper-level arms, familiarity with the system).

UPDATE 6 (8:00pm CT): Rosenthal says one official in the Cubs/Rangers talks believes a deal is “getting closer,” and that prospects from various levels are involved (including “possibly” Mike Olt). In some ways, this doesn’t quite square with a “best and final” type scheme. Do the Rangers have the best offer, but it’s still not quite enough? Are the Cubs actively working with the Rangers to see if they’ll top the other “best” offer out there? I don’t pretend to have the answers here. We know only that the Cubs are extensively discussing a Garza deal, and the Rangers are clearly one of the primary suitors.

UPDATE 7 (8:28pm CT): Dave Kaplan spoke to a scouting friend who says the offers the Cubs are getting are “very solid,” and that a deal will likely be done this weekend. So, still kind of the same general message.

UPDATE 8 (8:37pm CT): Kaplan adds that the scout – presumably the same one – says the Cubs hold all of the cards, and Garza is the only high-level starter available out there. Kaplan also confirmed that final offers are rolling in from a handful of teams.

UPDATE 9 (9:05pm CT): The Rosenthal/Morosi piece has been updated slightly to include mention of Rangers pitching prospect C.J. Edwards as possibly part of the deal. These guys tend not to pull random A-ball pitchers out of their hat. In other words, if they’re naming Edwards as possibly being part of a deal, then he’s at least been discussed.

UPDATE 10 (9:18pm CT): Kaplan’s scout source is really pushing the Cubs’ strength, saying that the Rangers cannot afford to not acquire Garza. That seems to be overstating things a bit, but obviously they do have a clear need.

UPDATE 11 (9:54pm CT): Sahadev suggests on Twitter that the names we’re hearing from Texas – i.e. Olt, Edwards and Jackson are indeed in play, but the Cubs are hoping for more. Don’t assume that the Cubs *definitely* have an offer on the table for those three. It’s only safe to assume that those are names in play.

  • King Jeff

    It seems that the Cubs may have an offer from the Rangers that they think is acceptable and are hoping someone beats that offer. Or that this is all just more posturing. Either way, I’m going to miss Garza.

  • Joe

    I really hope they can land some close to major league ready pitching as opposed to A ball pitchers.

    • http://waittilnextyear.net Nate Corbitt

      I agree. If we’re dealing Garza, I really think they should get some players that are ready to contribute at the major league level.

    • Lou Brown

      I don’t know, given the high flameout rate of pitchers, more high-upside guys might be better. I am not sure how much quality you would get with an MLB-ready pitcher for a rental. If you can land 2 or 3 high upside guys at high A, they would be right around where our positional prospects are, and could move up with them in the “first wave”.

      • EQ76

        well if we continue to trade off all our talent each year for A-ball players, we’ll continue to postpone our competitiveness.. I’d much rather see a pitcher AA or higher.

        • On The Farm

          Obviously we are trying to win a AA championship

        • Lou Brown

          High A is where the top prospects in the system are centered around now. So if you can get more talent at that level vs. less at AAA, I think you do it. We are not postponing our competitiveness, we are matching the acquisitions with where it is currently at. There is no difference maker in AAA right now. AA you have Alcantrara and Baez as the crest of the wave. So there is no sense sacrificing return to go higher than AA.

          • EQ76

            I wasn’t so much needing a beginners course on how the minors work, what I was trying to get across is that I’d like to see prospects that are closer to MLB ready other than guys 3-4 years away.. not sure if that’s attainable with a Garza trade or not, but it’s what I’m hoping for. guys 3-4 years away with high upside are great to have but we have such a shortage of pitching prospects that are close to the bigs.

  • North Side Irish

    Kind of sounds like the Rangers are offering multiple lesser pieces/lower level prospects…

    • willis

      Just what this organization needs………

  • Gcheezpuff

    I wonder if the cubs already have a good enough offer on the table and are making one last push to get a better offer… Maybe trying to force Boston or another team waiting in the weeds.

  • North Side Irish

    Robert Murray ‏@RobertMurrayMLB 1m
    Matt Garza news: If the #DBacks were to trade for a starting pitcher, they will NOT give up Archie Bradley or Tyler Skaggs, per @Gambo620.

    Not surprising…

    • King Jeff

      Yeah, no shocker there. Bradley has moved up to possibly being the best SP prospect in baseball now and I hear that Skaggs is gritty, so no way do we get him.

    • X The Cubs Fan

      That’s not true if they were a trading for a starting pitcher like say Samardzija, Gallardo, Peavy or even Cliff Lee they would all require one of the big deuce.

    • mdavis

      they could still put a nice package together around Davidson and Holmberg or Delgado.

    • BD

      I have been hoping for Skaggs, knowing that the Cubs would be including more than Garza.

  • kenster

    Texas:
    P-Neil Ramirez
    C-Jorge Alfaro
    IF-Mike Olt
    I also wouldn’t mind a combo of the following
    PIT: P Tyler Glasnow & OF Gregory Polanco
    STL: 2B Kolten Wong & P John Gast
    ARZ: SS Chris Owens & P David Holmberg
    LAD: OF Joc Pederson & P Matt Magill
    BOS: P Henry Owens/P Drake Britton & Garin Cecchini
    Of course the Cubs can also acquire a lower ranked prospect and the Cubs can trade lower prospects with any other trade candidate thrown in as well to make things work but I believe any deal involving these players would be a win

    • Jed Jam Band

      Are you certain you don’t want Zach Lee from the Dodgers? Not saying they would give him up, but if you could have him, would you say no to that?

      • kenster

        I would love for him to be acquired too but they won’t give him and pederson up but Le and Magill is a possibility. I would rather have Pederson and magill than lee and magill but whatever works

  • Jp3

    I know nothing about CJ Edwards other than judging by his numbers he’s an absolute K machine (and I’m not talking about the Brett Jackson).

  • Die hard

    Would let them have Garza for conditional PTBNL if they take Soriamo and pay his contract

    • hansman1982

      I dunno, Soriamo is a helluva prospect…

      • EQ76

        Maybe we could throw in Barwin Darney or James Reuschell with Soriamo to sweeten the deal.

  • MichiganGoat

    All sit down have a beer, relax, and enjoy the show.

    • Die hard

      Who says we’re not ? It’s always 5 pm somewhere and in some cases 5 am

    • Austin8466

      This. I love this time of year, but it’s best not to get too high or too low.

      Cheers!

      • MichiganGoat

        Cheers indeed the circus of rumors, pondering over who/what should be traded and for what, and the horriblely ridiculous trade ideas make for this season a combination of the worst B-movie and an Oscar worthy film. Both are fun to watch unfold.

      • WNebCub

        you should always get “too high”

  • Jorbert Solmora

    Could use an Assman sighting right about now..

    • http://bleachernation.com someday…2015?

      I think the Assman and Crockett silience is a good thing. It could be the calm before the storm…

      • hansman1982

        There is a joke in here somewhere…

      • Jorbert Solmora

        True. This Rosenthal piece might be it.

      • Assman22

        Garza not likely to come to terms on an extension…wants to test the market in the offseason…Barney’s name is really being thrown around the past 24 hours as has Villanueva…could be in Garza package or next dominoes to fall, if not…

        • http://bleachernation.com someday…2015?

          Sounds like a lot of movement is right around the corner. My anticipation has peaked!

    • Tim

      agreed

      • Tim

        by agreed I mean I wish we could hear from Assman or Crockett

        • Crockett

          I haven’t heard anything since this morning which didn’t mention any change from yesterday. He’s still convinced the deal is done…but maybe it was pending this “last and final offer” call. I got nothing today!

  • Stevie B

    If you offer me 3 low A ball, super high upside arms, ala Pierce Johnson types, I take that all day long. Why Major League ready talent only?? Are we ready to compete next year? (NO is the answer right there, btw)
    Will we match what we gave up for Garza? Maybe….as it looks like only 1 maybe 2 will contribute at the ML level.
    We have to let the FO do its thang…..I for one am drinking it. Pass the cup.

    • On The Farm

      “Are we ready to compete next year? (NO is the answer right there, btw)”

      Well no we won’t ‘compete’ next year baring a miracle, but a bunch of A ball pitchers might not be ready until 2016, maybe late 2015, and that is VERY optimistic on their delvelopment. The main point is you want guys who are close who can make an impact if not next year at least on the 2015 season when the Cubs window is supposedly starting.

      • ETS

        We started this season 5-13 (mostly due to our bullpen) and have been about .500 since. How many years away from being buyers do you think we are?

        • On The Farm

          I put ‘compete’ like that because I think we will be a good ball club next year, but I don’t think we can make up ground on the Cards, Pirates, and Reds to make the playoffs. Still a good team.

          2015 is the start of the window so that is why I said we need guys who can make an impact in 2015 (whether they spend that season in the ‘pen or rotation would be detirmined)

          • ETS

            I agree.

          • Big Joe

            I remember when that window was 2014…even a “possible wild card” in 2013. Now, it’s 2015 or 2016 when things should start to happen?

            • waittilthisyear

              no one with any sense thought the cubs would be competitive this year. if next years team plays .500 ball, they are right on track

        • willis

          Right this team has been playing decent ball. Holding someone like Garza keeps things in tact to build and continue to improve. Letting him go, and if it’s for Low A pitchers is sgnaling none of us should expect a winning team for years to come. So how long is long enough? 2014 as another throwaway season would make 5 straight absolutely terrible years which is unacceptable.

          Garza is as good as gone, and the cubs won’t get value for value, just trying to get something and save some scratch. It’s two steps backwards and 2014 is shaping up to be another lost season. Is that really ok?

    • Believe in 2015

      I don’t like thinking about “matching” what we gave up for him. Remember that we got three years of Garza in his prime (injuries were unfortunate). I do not think it would be resonable to try and get a package of prospects that the Cubs gave the Rays a few years back. I trust Theo and Co will do all they can to maximize the return on Garza.

    • Stogie

      This is ridiculous thinking by you. So you’re saying until the Cubs are ready to win a pennant, we shouldn’t have any good players? What ever happened to being a respectable team? Pride? Garza is a big piece of our team. To only get guys for him that are 3 yrs away is disgraceful. What is the plan exactly? To have 20 prospects debut with the Cubs at the same time? That would be a disaster! You want to sprinkle in new players at different times.

      • Stogie

        My comment was supposed to be a reply to StevieB.

      • EQ76

        we all keep talking about some of our future prospects being called up by 2015.. we can’t expect them all to produce immediately.. I never have believed that the “plan” was to build with prospects only.. it can’t be.. if that was the plan, we won’t be competitive until around 2017 or later. shoot, some of these guys won’t hit their prime until the 2020’s.. I believe that at least half of our top 10 prospects get dealt. I can think of 3 third basemen that won’t have a future in Chicago… I think Theo/Jed want to stockpile prospects (assets) so that the Cubs can get trades done for top level players and I believe we will be in the FA market next year. No way are they really going to take 8-10 years to build..

  • North Side Irish

    Ken Rosenthal ‏@Ken_Rosenthal 2m
    Sources: #Rangers “most motivated” on Garza, have had extensive talks with #Cubs. Story coming with @jonmorosi on http://FOXSports.com .

  • North Side Irish

    Jeff Passan ‏@JeffPassan 17s
    If Matt Garza doesn’t go to the Cubs, rival executives see St. Louis, Boston, D-backs and Dodgers as likeliest places for him to land.

    Assuming there’s a typo there…probably supposed to be Rangers

    • willis

      So help me God (and all of us Cubs fans) if he’s traded to the Cardinals. Doesn’t matter return. It would be terrible.

      • King Jeff

        I agree. I’d have to stab myself in the eyes every time I saw him with that uniform on.

        • On The Farm

          I don’t know if that’s why I don’t want the trade to happen (him in the uniform) as much as how secreltly broken down the prospects we would be getting in return.

      • Stinky Pete

        I don’t much care for the whole “Don’t trade in division” bit. If those bastards give the best return, take it.

        • willis

          You’ll care when he loves it there, signs an extension and dominates the division for the next 5 or so years.

          • Stinky Pete

            Eh, he will or he won’t. We don’t know. I’ll also be ecstatic if the players we get develop well and beat the crap out of stl every year.

          • Tim

            If that was the case why aren’t we signing him to an extension? Also, STL has some good prospects, they could put a real good package together. Last time we traded in the division Marshall to the Reds, it worked out pretty well.

          • BT

            We can’t STOP him from signing with the Cardinals. That’s a possibility no matter what we do with him (assuming we don’t re-sign him). If we trade him there, at least we weaken their farm system, while bettering ours, before they have to pay the going rate for him.

          • MDel

            I won’t care if what the Cubs got back was fair and is helping the Cubs compete with, and maybe even beat the Cardinals in 2 – 3 years.

      • Chad

        If he gets traded to the cardinals he will never give up a run ever again. Until he is no longer a cardinal in which he will have an ERA above 18.00

        • willis

          Exactly. How they develop and get every bit of talent out of players is amazing. They are the best organization in baseball. They would turn Garza into a multiple cy young winner and win three more World Series while he would be there. I don’t want to see that.

          And dealing within the division doesn’t bother me really. It’s the dealing with the cardinals that bothers me.

  • http://www.opportunity.org. seamhead

    Those high ceiling A Ball pitchers would likely not require spots on the 40-man roster, which will require astute management if we have an influx of prospects via trade.

  • http://twitter.com/Brad_S_Brewer Brad Brewer

    Okay… I have the feeling in me right now like you get when you are on a rollercoaster and you are just starting to “top the hill” and start the good part! I’m very anxious! :)

  • Eric

    Well I hate to see him go but in a lot of ways this trade could effect my beloved Cubbies for years to come.

  • ruby2626

    Thanks for the headsup on Keith Law being on ESPN radio. Few tidbits, of the Big 4, Soler because of limited sample size both here and in Cuba most likely to flop. Castro if he didn’t have that contract would be AAA bound. Said Vitters and BJAX will never amount to anything. Anyone hear anything else, I turned in for only the last 5 minutes.

    JMHO, I’d tender Garza and then resign him when he sees he’s not going to get $100M from anybody. We gave up a ton to get him but with 2 years of cost control gone that severely limits his value. If you were a team would you give up any of the Cubs Big 5 (yes counting the other AA) for 2 months of Garza, I sure wouldn’t.

    • On The Farm

      It doesn’t matter what we gave up for him because what we gave up has had little to no impact on the Rays ball club and Matt has been our Ace or 1A since getting him in the uniform. Its a bit ridiculous to be looking at what we gave up three years ago and be kicking ourselves because Matt Garza was every bit as advertised for us (aside from an injury that can strike any team).

      • Tim

        Aside from the fact that we had ZERO chance of winning his three years here. If we could get Archer(major league ready pitcher) and Lee(top 50 prospect in all of baseball) back in a Garza deal that would be amazing.

        Hendry should have known at the time we weren’t going to win, and our adding Garza didn’t help us win. I wish that trade had never been made, Archer is going to be a nice pitcher for a lot of years

        • On The Farm

          At this point Archer and Lee are sunk costs and should just be ignored when valuing Garza.

        • CubsFaninMS

          Chris Archer so far has had one good start in the majors. One. Let’s not make assumptions yet. He could go either way. I agree that he should be considered a sunk cost.

        • willis

          Meh, not true. The year the cubs traded for him their rotation was setting up to be badass and then within a week it fizzled due to injury and a bunch of crap was brought in to start. If they could have stayed healthy, I’d take 2011 Demp, Z, Garza, Wells and Cashner as a very good rotation. But losing two out of those 5 5-6 days into the season, no bueno.

          Jury is still way out on what the cubs gave up. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

          • willis

            And that was at Tim…it showed up down here though.

            cubsfaninms…where you from? I’m originally from Clarksdale.

        • Cub Style

          Lee isn’t what he used to be. I highly doubt he cracks the majors, but that’s my personal opinion.

      • Edwin

        I’d say it doesn’t matter what the Cubs gave up to get Garza because Garza’s value now has nothing to do with Garza’s value then. It’s gone down, but that’s pretty normal.

    • Coop

      I might, if I really thought it would make the difference in pushing towards a serious playoff run…

  • jh03

    I’m so ready for this whole thing to be over. I’m going to miss Garza though… One of my favorites to watch.

    • jh03

      I can’t type on an ipad, apparently, so my avatar wasn’t showing up.

  • Atfinch

    With all their pitching prospects I’m rooting for Boston to be the trade partner. We NEED pitching!

  • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

    Per my Giants source as mentioned yesterday no one was willing to meet Garza’s asking price of 5/$90.
    He says Dodgers are not in going forward but AL teams are most likely with Rangers, Bosox, & Indians all in the mix.

    • Coop

      5/$90 is steep – but that is what he should be asking, tbh. If he gets traded, not draft compensation tied to him, so let the bidding begin. The only discounted contract that would makes sense for him to sign would be with the Cubs, since they hold the qualifying offer “mini trump card.”

    • Jed Jam Band

      The only thing that seems weird about that, to me anyways, is that we know the Dodgers REALLY DON’T CARE ABOUT MONEY. I mean, this team shells out dollars like they’re a dying currency (which they might be?). Anyways, other than that, this seems reasonable. After all, 5/90 would be very pricey and we’ve always known that those three teams would be good fits for Garza and have the prospects to make it happen.

  • zHolliday-

    I would not mind garza being traded to the Cardinals. As long as they don’t win the WS with him. He could bounce at the end of the year and cost the cardinals prospects.

  • Jim

    I like the strategy and there is still another couple of weeks in July where you can say “Nah, we didn’t like anybody’s offer maybe we’ll keep him” and now you have some more days for people to really get desperate.

  • #1lahairfan

    Are the Nationals still in the mix for Garza?

  • Jed Jam Band

    I’m surprised we haven’t talked about the Dodgers more than we have. I mean, going by the contract extension theory, who is more likely to dole out big money than SIGN ALL THE PLAYERS-era Dodgers? I mean, yes, their system isn’t quite what the Red Sox or Rangers systems are, but a package that begins with Zach Lee would be pretty damn good, right?

  • http://odu Greenroom

    If we deal Garza, 2014 is another “possible” .500 ball club.
    My worst fear, we get all of these prospects and for the most part, they never reach their ceilings or fall short of their potential. We have no guarantee that any of them will become the players they are projected to be.
    I am all about the “Thoyer” plan…but I really want to see some major league or close to major league talent in these moves. If, and its an If, 2014 is another wash, it will truly break my heart. But then again, I am just a guy sitting on his couch. Go Cubs~

    • willis

      Get ready to be heartbroken. Also get ready to realize what the team gets back will never match the major league value of Matt Garza.

      • Noah

        I wouldn’t say that last part is necessarily true. If you just look at the Cubs’ trade for Garza as Archer for Garza, I’d say that Archer (0.9 fWAR so far) has a very good shot at surpassing the 7 fWAR Garza compiled in 2.5 years with the Cubs over the six plus years of team control the Rays will have over him. Sam Fuld has contributed 1.9 fWAR on his own in the last three years, although 90% of that was in that one hot stretch at the beginning of 2011. If Hak Ju Lee comes back from the knee injury and can be anything close to an average regular, the Rays are going to get a lot more fWAR from the players they received in the trade than Garza compiled.

        Quite honestly, I wouldn’t be shocked if Archer outperforms Garza from 2014 through 2018, which I think are the likely years for Garza’s next deal.

  • SalukiHawk

    If TX offered a pkg of Neil Ramirez, CJ Edwards and Luke Jackson, I’d take that in a minute. These are three amazing young arms and all are pitching well right now. Sure they aren’t top 110 (although I think Ramirez and Edwards will be soon at the rate they’re going), but they give quality depth to our MiLB pitching, would be ready at or about the same time as Almora, Bryant and Baez, and none would take up a 40 man roster spot. It’d be hard not to like a deal like that.

  • SalukiHawk

    Obviously meant top 100 in the post above.

  • itzscott

    The problem in reality with the “give us your best & final offer” approach is that ALL teams are unlikely to offer their best prospects and are all more likely than not to lowball their bids…. making the Cubs choose between subpar offers rather than if they just worked out a deal or multiple player deal by just asking for who the Cubs want in return.

    • Coop

      Unless you start with the “blind bid” method – and leave teams with the impression that it is a final offer, do your best – but then add a, “well, can you beat this best blind bid?”

      • itzscott

        Then you lose all credibility going forward when you try it again. No GM would believe them next time the Cubs offered a trade.

        • Coop

          Yes, I recognize that risk, but I think you could still pull it off while retaining credibility. Something along the lines of, “We weren’t thrilled with the final offer, so we will give you one last chance.”

  • Die hard

    The team losing starter to suspension will be one to pull trigger

  • Eric

    I don’t think anything will be announced.

    • Eric

      I don’t think anything will be announced TONIGHT is what I meant to say. :)

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