Now for the fun stuff. Welcome to that part of the offseason we look forward to every year. Where does Giancarlo Stanton land? Who gets J.D. Martinez? How do the Cardinals and Giants address their needs? Is it still a bull market for relievers?
We've written before that when one or two dominos fall -- for instance, if Eric Hosmer signs somewhere -- there could be an avalanche of other moves. That's what is about to happen.
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These next few weeks are when the heavy lifting gets done -- particularly at the Winter Meetings, which will be held from Dec. 10-14 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. With owners and general managers having had time to assess the market, and with managerial openings filled -- though the Yankees are still shopping for a skipper -- the work that will shape some teams for years to come begins.
Here's a look at eight storylines that help us to reset the offseason:
1. Shohei Ohtani
Ohtani and Stanton add an interesting twist to the offseason apart from free agency. Ohtani is unique and potentially the most game-changing player to arrive in a generation. And now that we have word that a new posting system will be in place (and likely will be ratified on Friday), teams can start moving forward with their offseason plans.
Ohtani has asked teams to submit proposals on how they intend to use him as both a starting pitcher and a hitter. Those will be fascinating reads, because frankly, people aren't quite sure.
Ohtani will pitch every fifth day and could serve as a designated hitter or an outfielder on days he doesn't take the hill. Those are the days when starting pitchers typically push themselves hard with running/throwing/strength programs.
To do that work and then still play nine innings is a challenge baseball people are still getting their minds around. But Ohtani is going to get that chance, and that should open doors for others.
Almost every Draft includes players who, say, start a college game on Friday, then play a position on Saturday and Sunday. The Rays have already opened that door by using their 2017 No. 1 pick, Louisville's Brendan McKay, as a pitcher, first baseman and DH in his first pro season, and we might be entering a new era when two-way players become part of the game.
Because Stanton has 10 years and $295 million remaining on his contract, not every club will be willing to make that financial commitment while also giving up the elite prospects the Marlins are seeking in a trade.
But Stanton is a franchise-changing player, a 28-year-old slugger with charisma fresh off a 59-homer season in which he was voted the National League Most Valuable Player Award winner. He'll likely have plenty of options -- the Red Sox, Cardinals, Giants and possibly the Braves and Phillies. He has the power to veto deals, and some wonder if he would prefer to return to his native Southern California.
Regardless, teams such as the Giants and Cards seem likely to exhaust negotiations involving Stanton before moving on to Hosmer, Martinez, etc.
Video: Morosi on if Giants are frontrunners to land Stanton
These teams have a lot in common, so we are grouping them together. Two of the game's crown-jewel franchises are coming off tough seasons, and both intend to aggressively address their needs. Their approach likely will impact the market for a long list of free agents -- Martinez, Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain -- as well as Stanton.
The Cardinals are especially interesting because they have the farm system to both make a trade for Stanton and pursue pitching depth. Regardless, plenty of whatever happens this offseason will revolve around these two teams.
Another two teams with a lot in common. Both have money to spend and prospects to deal. Both believe that their rebuilds are close to turning a corner and that it makes sense to add impact veterans to their lineups and clubhouses.
Atlanta probably will focus on pitching, especially bullpen help, while Philly is looking at both hitting and pitching and has hardly any long-term financial commitments. With so many teams examining their free-agent options, the dynamics are in place for some crazy bidding competition.
5. Dave Dombrowski
The Red Sox's president of baseball operations has a history of doing big things, and that's why we love him. That includes trades for Miguel Cabrera, Max Scherzer, Chris Sale, David Price and others.
Dombrowski's team needs a home run hitter, which creates all sorts of possibilities. He's also aggressive. Once he identifies a player, he'll either get that player or move on to the next-best option.
6. Scott Boras factor
Boras represents Martinez, Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Jake Arrieta and others. At a time when teams are ready for deals, Boras often takes a go-slow approach to build a market -- and suspense -- for his clients.
How long will teams wait? They want budget certainty and an opportunity to shape marketing campaigns around the new guys.
Will teams allow Boras to control the timetable, or will this dynamic create early opportunities for Yu Darvish, Cain, Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb and Jay Bruce, among many others?
The Rays are considering a major overhaul as they check the market for Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Alex Colome and possibly even Evan Longoria.
If, say, just Archer and Colome are available, it could have a huge ripple effect on the free-agent market. Some executives believe it won't happen, that Rays general manager Erik Neander simply is considering all his options.
If the O's keep the band together for another run, executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette will have to add at least two starting pitchers to line up with Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman.
But that would be kicking the can down the road on the decisions that await as Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Zach Britton and Brad Brach enter their walk years.
Plus, Duquette and manager Buck Showalter are entering the final seasons of their own contracts. Only the Yankees and Indians have won more regular-season games since O's owner Peter Angelos put Duquette and Showalter together six years ago. So big decisions await in Charm City.
Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.