Yusei Kikuchi's market is beginning to heat up at the winter meetings.
"I spoke to (agent) Scott Boras about Kikuchi," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told reporters in Las Vegas on Monday, according to George A. King III of the New York Post. "He is a starting pitcher who is obviously transitioning to the United States and we have scouted extensively."
The Yankees have been cautious in approaching this year's free-agent pitching market when it comes to long-term deals. Cashman's apparent refusal to give Patrick Corbin a six-year deal eliminated them from that race; the Yankees are also reluctant to offer J.A. Happ more than a two-year deal to return to the Bronx, King reported.
Kikuchi's contract demands aren't known, but he's likely seeking something long term at high salary given that he hired Boras as an agent.
In addition to the Yankees, Kikuchi is also drawing interest from the Seattle Mariners, according to Greg Johns of MLB.com. Seattle is entering a rebuilding period but views Kikuchi as someone who could be a part of its next winning team.
"Sure, he's 27," Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto told Johns. "I don't know what his interest level is in playing in Seattle just yet, but we are interested and he does fit our timeline. By the time we feel like we get to our next window, he's 29 years old."
The hard-throwing lefty put up a 3.08 ERA with 153 strikeouts in Japan last season and can negotiate with MLB teams until Jan. 5. If he's not signed by that time, he'll return to Seibu and wouldn't be eligible to sign in the majors until 2020 as an international free agent.