Now that the general manager's meetings are over - generating far more talk and activity than any other in recent history -- the Red Sox have a much better sense of how their winter will play out.
In most other years, the Sox -- and others -- might have had to wait until the winter meetings in December to determine their next move.
But the overriding sense in Boca Raton, Fla., this week was that plenty of activity could take place in the coming weeks, perhaps even days.
Several in the industry have theorized that the unusually high turnover among baseball executives -- fully one-third of the 30 decision-makers were not in their current positions a year ago -- coupled with the increasing parity in the game would lead to a quickened timetable for trades and signings.
Typically, the GM meetings serve as an opportunity to begin discussions and lay groundwork for conversations to be resumed the following month at the winter meetings.
But already, a number of significant deals have been made, with the promise of more to come -- some, perhaps, involving the Red Sox.
Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski spoke with virtually every team at the GM meetings, in addition to huddling with several agents.
Unsurprisingly, though the Sox were linked to some position players (free agent outfielder Chris Young, for one), most of Dombrowski's work centered around obtaining pitching -- both starters and relievers.
Indications are that the Red Sox are serious players for Cincinnati reliever Aroldis Chapman. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Sox were doing their due diligence -- reviewing medicals, etc. -- on Chapman, with the anticipation that Chapman could be dealt before the start of next week.
Chapman is one of a handful of closers being made available -- for various reasons - this offseason. San Diego's Craig Kimbrel, Pittsburgh's Mark Melancon, Washington's Drew Storen and even the Yankees' Andrew Miller are all thought to be on the market.
The Yankees aren't about to deal Miller back to Boston and the Sox have already had a season -- 2012 -- with Melancon, one in which he pitched poorly. The feeling is that while Melancon has pitched well in the National League, his success doesn't translate to the American League, or, for that matter, to a market like Boston.
That leaves Kimbrel as the other option, but because he's signed for two more years at $25 million ($11 million in 2016, $13 million in 2017, with a $1 million buyout for 2018 or an option for $13 million), he will be more costly, since an acquiring team could be controlling him for as many as three more seasons. Chapman, by contrast, would be under control for just 2016.
By all accounts, the Sox are more involved on Chapman than Kimbrel, perhaps precisely because the asking price will be more tenable.
Chapman won't come cheaply, of course. He's arguably the most dominant closer in the game, with a career WHIP of 1.016 and a strikeout rate of 15.4 per nine innings over parts of six big-league seasons.
More to the point, at a time when power arms are in vogue, Chapman last season averaged 99.5 mph with his fastball.
It's unknown what the acquisition cost would be for Chapman, though it will be predictably steep with Toronto, Detroit, Arizona and others said to be interested.
Still, it's likely the Sox could land Chapman without having to sacrifice either of their two foundational players: Shortstop Xander Bogaerts and outfielder Mookie Betts.
The Reds are said to be seeking position players, meaning the Sox could interest them with outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., or a package that would include some younger prospects (Manuel Margot) who are a year or so away from contributing at the major-league level.
That the Sox have such obvious interest in a closer with a one-year deal is the clearest sign yet that they intend to attempt to compete in 2016, and not embark on a longer-term rebuild.
Precisely where the Sox stand on finding a true No. 1 starter is less clear.
Dombrowski seemed to indicate the Sox might indeed be players for some of the top-of-the-market, free-agent starters (David Price, Johnny Cueto, Zack Greinke), despite the cost and the organization's stated philosophical aversion to signing pitchers 30 years or older.
At the GM meetings, several teams with prospective No. 1 starters indicated an unwillingness to deal. Oakland (Sonny Gray) and the New York Mets (who boast a deep, immensely talented rotation) gave clear signs that they would not be willing to move their aces.
The Chicago White Sox were less definitive when it comes to Chris Sale, with GM Rich Hahn suggesting that he would be willing to at least listen on anybody. That stance, coupled with the Red Sox prospect-laden system, had led Comcast SportsNet Chicago to theorize that the Red Sox are in better position than almost any other team to put together a package for Sale.
The White Sox, according to CSN Chicago, have identified Blake Swihart as someone who would have to be in a deal for Sale, though there would need to be much more coming from Boston in order to pry loose the All-Star lefty.
Before the Sox can move on to the rotation, it would seem Dombrowski is first intent on addressing an upgrade at a bullpen. It might not take long to see what he meant when he said: "At some point, we're going to most likely do something that is painful one way or another.''