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Five deals that could ignite Hot Stove

What will it take to get the ball rolling this offseason?
MLB.com @philgrogers

Thanksgiving has come and gone. Leftovers have been eaten or stored in the freezer, where they're likely to remain until the zombie apocalypse.

That means it's time for the Hot Stove season to fire up like a freshly tuned snowblower, but, regrettably, the engine hasn't quite turned over.

Thanksgiving has come and gone. Leftovers have been eaten or stored in the freezer, where they're likely to remain until the zombie apocalypse.

That means it's time for the Hot Stove season to fire up like a freshly tuned snowblower, but, regrettably, the engine hasn't quite turned over.

Not yet, but any day now.

Hot Stove Tracker

Part of the fun of following the baseball offseason is you never know when the headlines are going to be made. We still have two weeks left before the Winter Meetings, but that milepost doesn't tell us much.

There were a flurry of moves before the Winter Meetings last year, including the D-backs' five-player trade with the Mariners (highlighted by Taijuan Walker); the Astros trading for Brian McCann and signing Josh Reddick; the Blue Jays signing Kendrys Morales; the Brewers signing Eric Thames; the Cardinals signing Brett Cecil; and the Mets re-signing Yoenis Cespedes.

There may not be that much activity over the next couple of weeks, but it's going to get interesting, even with Shohei Ohtani waiting in the wings for baseball's wildest round of recruitment, once he has been formally posted by the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. Thirty teams could use the two-way player, but only the boldest will prioritize their offseason around landing him.

That's the case with a lot of other commodities, too, so expect the market to start defining itself as the Ohtani sweepstakes play out on a parallel track. Among the developments that could start the ball rolling:

1. Reliever-o-rama
Pitchers with late-inning bonafides are almost always the first dominos to fall on the free-agent market. At least 10 teams are unsettled at closer and all 30 -- well, maybe 29, with the Yankees excluded -- could use more power arms and grizzled strike-throwers in the bullpen.

Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon benefitted from competition for their services last year, and that's likely the way it will play out for the top relievers in this year's market. Wade Davis and Greg Holland lead the inventory of available relievers, followed by Addison Reed, Brandon Morrow, Juan Nicasio, Bryan Shaw, Brandon Kintzler and Tony Watson.

There's an intriguing subplot here, as teams that want to avoid a long-term commitment to a reliever are exploring the trade market. The Royals' Kelvin Herrera, Rays' Jesus Colome and Yankees' David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle are among the closers and setup men in demand.

2. First Royal down
Dayton Moore and his boss, chairman/owner David Glass, are in a ticklish position as they try to keep the bottom from falling out of the roster that produced a World Series championship in 2015 and an American League pennant in '14. They would love to be able to retain Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas -- among others -- but does it make sense to spend heavily to re-sign them when they're in high demand elsewhere?

The Royals' direction -- full or partial rebuild -- will be set when their nine free agents make decisions. This could determine how seriously Moore listens to offers for Herrera, Danny Duffy and others, and is likely to be followed by some signings to restock Kansas City's roster.

Video: Royals' chances of re-signing Eric Hosmer

3. A non-Jerry Dipoto trade
The Mariners' general manager remains a dervish, adding and subtracting players at a record pace. Dipoto is as active as anyone in trying to sell Ohtani on his franchise, but he remains the favorite to make a trade on any given day, as he's already done by adding Ryon Healy as the first baseman.

Video: Dipoto joins The Wheelhouse Podcast to discuss Healy

But what about a trade that doesn't involve Seattle? What if it was a three- or even a four-team blockbuster between the Marlins, Brewers, Rangers and Blue Jays (just pick four teams)? That would get the market rolling, wouldn't it?

4. Another tomorrow-for-today deal from Rick Hahn
Outside of the Mariners, the White Sox are as likely to make a deal as anyone. It's true that the inventory is down after they traded Chris Sale, Adam Eaton, Jose Quintana, Todd Frazier, Melky Cabrera, Miguel Gonzalez, Tyler Clippard, Robertson and Kahnle in the last year, but first baseman Jose Abreu and right fielder Avisail Garcia remain as attractive targets.

Video: Scott Merkin on Abreu's importance for White Sox

Both are two years away from free agency, so they'll need either a contract extension or a new address as the Sox build to win in 2020 and beyond. Hahn isn't in a hurry to deal Abreu or Garcia, but they may have their most value now.

5. A Giancarlo Stanton trade or J.D. Martinez signing
Several teams appear to be negotiating with the Marlins for Stanton, and with agent Scott Boras for Martinez, including the Cardinals and Giants. Other teams (Dodgers, Red Sox and Phillies) are in the mix, and it only takes one of the parties involved to set a deal in motion.

Video: Callis breaks down possible Stanton trade rumors

If they make an offer that's too good for Martinez or the Marlins (and Stanton, who has a full no-trade clause) to turn down, and put an expiration date on the offer, one of the biggest deals of the offseason could also be one of the first. Wouldn't that be something?

Phil Rogers is a national columnist for MLB.com.