When he clock struck midnight on the east coast a few minutes ago, MLB’s free agent class of 2011 became eligible to sign with new teams. Albert Pujols is now free to become an Oakland Athletic, Prince Fielder can swing a deal with the Padres, whatever. The possibilities are endless…well, in theory, anyway.

The clubs had their chance to keep their free agents, now it’s market-mania. The 2012 season will be influenced dramatically by what takes place on the open market over the next several weeks and even months. The deadline for clubs to offer arbitration to their eligible players is November 23rd. Compensation picks are on the line for Type A and Type B free agents as determined by the Elias Sports Bureau.

This is the Hot Stove and it’s going full-throttle until the spring. Keep checking in for updates on player movement this offseason as well as a detailed discussion of the often-confusing rules and protocols of the Hot Stove season. Title runs are built over the winter months and in many cases, the most influential moves aren’t the ones with the highest profiles. We’ll be talking about the moves of significance all winter long.