This week is an important one in the Hot Stove season. The major award winners will be announced, plus the annual general manager meetings will take place in Orlando, Florida. 

The GM meetings generally cover off-field matters, though anytime you put all 30 general managers in one place, deals are inevitable. Two years ago the Andrelton Simmons trade went down at the GM meetings, for example, and often the groundwork is laid for deals that are completed later in the offseason. 

Here are the four biggest storylines going into the 2017 GM Meetings:

Where will Stanton end up?

MLB: Miami Marlins at Philadelphia Phillies
Giancarlo Stanton's future is very much up in the air. USATSI

It is becoming increasingly likely NL MVP candidate (favorite?) and dinger mashing machine Giancarlo Stanton will no longer be with the Marlins when the 2018 season begins. The new Derek Jeter-led ownership group is reportedly determined to slash payroll, and there's no easier or quicker way to do that than by trading your highest paid player.

Stanton trade chatter is already dominating headlines. The Cardinals, Giants, Red Sox and Phillies are said to be most involved -- the Cardinals and Red Sox especially -- and you know teams like the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs and Astros will throw their hat in the ring before long. I imagine the other 29 teams will all give the Marlins a call at some point. Stanton just turned 28 and he's a cornerstone type player. Everyone wants him.

Trades of this magnitude usually take time, and of course a bidding war would benefit the Marlins, so it would be surprising if Stanton was dealt during the GM meetings this week. In all likelihood, the Marlins will meet face-to-face with prospective suitors, name their price and begin the negotiation process in earnest.

Will Otani get any closer to coming to MLB?

This much we know: The Nippon Ham Fighters will post two-way sensation Shohei Otani this offseason. We just don't know when. MLB and NPB are currently haggling with the MLB Players Assocation over the posting agreement. As things stand, the Fighters will receive a $20 million release fee while Otani himself will net no more than $3.6 million in bonus money under the international spending rules. The union doesn't like so much money going to the team and so little going to the player.

Otani recently hired Nez Balelo of CAA Sports, an MLBPA certified agent, which could help settle the dispute between MLB, NPB and MLBPA. The union knows Otani is in good hands now, and can be confident he will be kept apprised of any developments and that he completely understands the process. The sooner the dispute is settled and the sooner Otani is actually posted, the better. Expect the 30 general managers to push hard for a resolution during the GM meetings this week.

What are the Yankees going to do?

In recent years the Yankees have been the most active team at the GM meetings. Two years ago they sent John Ryan Murphy to the Twins for Aaron Hicks, and the year before they traded Francisco Cervelli to the Pirates for Justin Wilson. The Yankees typically get a lot of things done early in the offseason. Not necessarily their biggest moves, but moves in general.

Next Monday, Nov. 20, is the deadline for teams to add eligible prospects to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft, and the Yankees simply do not have enough roster spots to protect everyone they want to protect. When you have a deep farm system like New York's, you're going to lose players in the Rule 5 Draft. That's just the way it goes. 

Rather than lose players on the 40-man roster bubble for nothing, the Yankees will surely trade a few for non-40-man prospects. Last offseason they traded James Pazos to the Mariners for a prospect for that reason, and the year before they traded Jose Pirela to the Padres for the same reason. The Yankees have been very aggressive managing their 40-man situation in recent years.

The smart money is on New York having a busy week, albeit with a lot of smaller moves rather than blockbusters. They might even hire a manager at some point, though chances are that won't happen during the GM meetings.

Will any pace-of-play measures be pushed?

MLB: World Series-Los Angeles Dodgers at Houston Astros
Could mound visits be limited going forward? USATSI

Three years ago MLB implemented several measures designed to improve the pace of play. Players could no longer step out of the box after taking a pitch, and a clock was installed to ensure play begins immediately after a commercial break ends. Here is the average time of nine-inning games since:

  • 2014: 3 hours, 2 minutes
  • 2015: 2 hours, 56 minutes (first year with new pace-of-play rules)
  • 2016: 3 hours, 0 minutes
  • 2017: 3 hours, 6 minutes

The pace-of-play rules worked for one year. The average time of game has climbed since, and a new time of game record was set in 2017. Not surprisingly, MLB and the MLBPA will again discuss pace-of-play measures this winter:

Reducing mound visits would help improve the pace of play considerably. The pitch clock, which was tested in the Arizona Fall League a few years ago and is currently used at Double-A and Triple-A, has proven to shave down the time of game by quite a bit. The MLBPA hasn't jumped on board with the idea yet. There is some concern forcing pitchers to work quickly will lead to more injuries.

The general managers represent their clubs and will undoubtedly broach the pace-of-play topic this week. There is definitely room for improvement. It's not so much the time of game, either, it's the downtime within the game. Players standing around and adjusting their batting gloves, mound visits, stuff like that chews up a lot of time while nothing happens on the field. I think everyone can agree the less downtime, the better.

I expect mound visits to be a hot topic this offseason. They might be limited going forward. Either way, no new rules will be finalized this week, but the wheels will be put in motion. Once MLB figures out what they want to do, they'll lay things out for the MLBPA, and the two sides will find a middle ground. That all starts at the GM meetings.