Winter Meetings 2017: The five biggest questions of the week

Big League Stew
The Winter Meetings have started in Florida and Brian Cashman’s Yankees, <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/mlb/players/9002/" data-ylk="slk:J.D. Martinez">J.D. Martinez</a> and Dave Dombrowski of the Red Sox all figure to be big players. (AP)
The Winter Meetings have started in Florida and Brian Cashman’s Yankees, J.D. Martinez and Dave Dombrowski of the Red Sox all figure to be big players. (AP)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — It’s the most-talked-about week of baseball’s offseason, the Winter Meetings, and the 2017 version is ripe with opportunity.

Two major storylines were wrapped up last week, as Giancarlo Stanton turned down trades to the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants before agreeing to a swap that sent him to the New York Yankees. Shohei Ohtani, the Japanese Babe Ruth, surprised everyone and picked the Los Angeles Angels as his MLB home.

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Outside of those things, there are now teams desperate to make a deal and plenty of free agents whose paths to new teams are a little clearer. All that in mind, here are the five biggest questions of this week’s Winter Meetings.

What else are the Yankees going to do?
The statement has been sent. The Yankees aren’t playing around. By adding Stanton, they’re already the marquee team of the offseason. And if they’re taking on Stanton’s contract, they might as well not settle for a half-measure. Is more coming? Rotation help? Something else?

How will the Red Sox respond?
You know how this goes by now. The Yankees vs. the Red Sox is baseball’s game within a game. Getting Stanton announced to the rest of the league that the Yankees aren’t rebuilding anymore, they’re chasing championships again. But that message goes twice for the Red Sox, who have been linked, at least in early talks, to J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer. So Boston needs to respond not just because the team needs to be better in 2018, but also because the Yankees can’t be making moves while the Red Sox aren’t.

Who’s our first $100 million man?
In the MLB offseason, it’s not a matter of if someone will get a $100 million contract, but who and when? Martinez, Hosmer, Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta are the names in line for big paydays. Now that Stanton has been moved and Shohei Ohtani picked the Angels, the other big dominoes need to fall.

What star will get engulfed in trade rumors?
It’s a December tradition — changing-by-the-hour trade rumors around an MLB star. Last year, it was Chris Sale who got moved at the Winter Meetings. This year, will we see another team make a big move now that the Stanton trade has been completed? There are a number of stars who have been mentioned in trade rumors in recent months and the volume could heat up this week. We’re talking Josh Donaldson, Manny Machado, Chris Archer, Evan Longoria, Andrew McCutchen among others.

How will the Stanton/Ohtani losers respond?
The secondary storyline from the Stanton/Ohtani sweepstakes was learning about how eager teams like the Seattle Mariners, San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals are to improve. Same goes for how hungry their fans are for a big move. The Cardinals already signed Luke Gregorson for their bullpen, but that’s hardly a Stanton consolation prize. The pressure is now on these teams to make a big offseason move. Could the Giants go after McCutchen now? Could the Cards go after Donaldson? Might the Mariners sign Darvish? We’ll see.

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Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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