MLB rumors: He Yamamoto is now with the Mets, the Yankees are interested in him, and the Astros are calling about Framber Valdez.

MLB rumors: He Yamamoto is now with the Mets, the Yankees are interested in him, and the Astros are calling about Framber Valdez.

The holidays are closing in, but a number of notable names remain on the post-Shohei Ohtani free-agent market, and that’s to say nothing of the bevy of possible trade candidates who may be headed elsewhere this MLB offseason.

Twenty-five-year-old right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto is the top starting pitcher on the free-agent market, and his decision may be coming soon. As such, the rumors keep coming, and we’re here to round up Monday’s supply.

Thanks to his youth, ace upside and results, Yamamoto may fetch more than $300 million, and that’s before you even add in the substantial posting fee that will be owed to his NPB team, the Orix Buffaloes.

Several key members of the New York Mets organization were reportedly in attendance for Yamamoto’s recent dinner at owner Steve Cohen’s house, and that kind of aggressive push, plus Cohen’s willingness to spend has perhaps positioned the Mets as frontrunners.

Also heavily in the mix, however, are the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers, who also have vast resources and have been active in wooing Yamamoto, with some reporters having occasionally name-checked one of those two clubs as the favorite.

Elsewhere, the San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox, and Toronto Blue Jays are believed to be in the Yamamoto pursuit, and the Philadelphia Phillies have also emerged as aggressive suitors.

As Ken Rosenthal reports, the Phillies under lead decision-maker Dave Dombrowski are committed to becoming more active when it comes to landing top-line talent from Asia, and that figures to remain a goal this winter, even if they miss out on Yamamoto.

Per MLB-NBP posting rules, Yamamoto, after entering the market has 45 days to reach an agreement, which in his instance means a Jan. 4 deadline.

Yamamoto, however, is widely expected to make his decision before the end of December. Speaking of which, Jeff Passan reports that actual bidding and more formal contract discussions are likely to begin on Monday.

The bidding for Yoshinobu Yamamoto is about to heat up, with ESPN’s Jeff Passan hearing that teams were expected to begin proposing contract terms as early as Monday.

MLB Network insider Joel Sherman reported something similar in an article for the New York Post on Sunday, writing that the “actual bidding process is supposed to intensify this week.”

The Mets, who reportedly had a second meeting with Yamamoto on Saturday, are planning to enter their bid for the Japanese ace in the next couple of days, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post. Per Puma, the Mets’ expectation is that Yamamoto will make his decision by Christmas.

According to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, at least six other clubs are “engaged” and “invested” in the 25-year-old ace.

That includes the Yankees, Dodgers, Phillies, Blue Jays, Red Sox and Giants. Per Heyman, the Yankees also requested a second meeting with Yamamoto, which took place on Sunday.

Morosi notes that with the free agency departures of right-handers Sonny Gray and Kenta Maeda, Minnesota is seeking rotation help and could part ways with the two longtime Twins.

Kepler has posted a .753 OPS with 153 home runs over nine seasons for Minnesota, including a 36-homer campaign in 2019.

Injuries have limited him in recent years, but he still managed to hit 24 homers with an .816 OPS over 130 games last season.

Polanco, meanwhile, has been with the Twins for the last 10 seasons. He’s also been hampered by injuries, but in each of the last two seasons in which he played at least 150 games, he was nearly a 5-win player per Baseball Reference WAR. That includes his lone All-Star campaign in 2019.

With the Dodgers’ deal for Tyler Glasnow now official, there is one fewer frontline starter on the trade market. That may lead to increased interest in the aces who could still be available via trade, including White Sox right-hander Dylan Cease.

Cease is a possibility for a number of teams, including the Yankees, Giants, Rangers, Reds, Braves and Orioles, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal wrote Friday.

However, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale went one step further on Sunday, labeling Atlanta and Baltimore as the “current favorites” to land the 27-year-old right-hander.

The Orioles and Reds could entice Chicago with their position-player depth. Baltimore has six position players on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects while Cincinnati has a glut of young, talented infielders.

Relatedly, the Reds are reportedly engaged in talks with multiple teams regarding 27-year-old second baseman Jonathan India, who was the 2021 National League Rookie of the Year.