Yoshinobu Yamamoto is expected to travel to the United States to meet with the New York Yankees on Monday, according to MLB.com.
The report on Wednesday also said New York Mets owner Steve Cohen flew to Japan last week to meet with the right-hander, stating the East Coast rivals are expected to be the two top bidders for the 25-year-old who could command a contract of around $300 million this offseason.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants are also potential suitors for Yamamoto with the deadline for his deal set on Jan. 4.
Yamamoto, posted by the Orix Buffaloes, this year won both Pacific League MVP and the Sawamura Award after being Japan's top pitcher for the third straight season.
Lefty Shota Imanaga is also attracting strong interest from MLB clubs after his agent said at the Winter Meetings in Nashville that "more than 10 clubs" are looking to reinforce their rosters with the 30-year-old, posted by the Central League's DeNA BayStars.
"There are lots of teams hoping to land a left-handed starter. I believe that's quite an advantage," Imanaga's agent Yoshinori Hasegawa said.
With Imanaga able to negotiate a deal until Jan. 11., Hasegawa noted that "there's still a lot of time, so we won't get flustered and will assess the situation."
The agent added Imanaga, the starting and winning pitcher for Japan in the 2023 World Baseball Classic final against the United States, has no preference over the location of his next team and is unbothered about whether the team already has other Japanese players on the roster. Talks have already been held with several teams online.
Shintaro Fujinami, meanwhile, has been offered contracts from several MLB clubs in a reliever role, his agent Scott Boras said.
Fujinami initially struggled as a starter but bounced back as a reliever as he finished his MLB rookie season with the Baltimore Orioles after being traded from the Oakland Athletics.