Now that the Yankees have wrapped up a successful 2017 season, the attention can shift fully to their efforts in 2018. Well, mostly. This is the era of responsible stewardship in the Bronx, so at least one eye will surely also train its gaze to the horizon.

As the team ponders its options at third base, then, it won’t simply be a matter of deciding which top free agent or trade candidate is best. On the face of things, the team is losing its third bagger to free agency and must find a replacement. And, indeed, mid-season acquisition Todd Frazier is headed to the open market. For a Yankees team that’s primed to compete, that could mean its time to add a star. But there’s more at play here, making for a particularly interesting situation.

First, GM Brian Cashman has made clear that the Yankees’ payroll will not top $197MM. The Yanks are finally determined to get under the luxury tax line and seem quite committed to doing so. Given its slate of existing commitments, and assuming the team pays the full amount projected for all of its arbitration-eligible players, it will have just under $145MM committed and the bulk of the roster accounted for. After accounting for pre-arb salaries and the standard medical and other employment allocations, the organization could have something in the realm of $35MM to play with — perhaps a bit more, if some of Jacoby Ellsbury’s salary can be moved — though the front office may also need to keep some powder dry for mid-season moves. While that’s still a healthy amount of wiggle room, since the Yanks will return quite a few key pieces, it creates some real constraints.

Second, it’s worth bearing in mind that next year’s free agent class offers some extremely exciting possibilities. Among the many superstars hitting the open market, barring extensions, will be Manny Machado and Josh Donaldson — two of the game’s very best third baggers. Two others, Nolan Arenado and Anthony Rendon, will reach free agency in the ensuing winter. It’s difficult to structure near-term decisions around such hypothetical opportunities, of course, but the possibility of landing a star performer in the relatively near future could weigh in favor of some restraint on this year’s market.