June 4 (UPI) -- Former Houston Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel may not be a free agent for much longer The the New York Yankees have reportedly emerged as the front-runner to sign the two-time All-Star.
A source told MLB.com that the Yankees "are emerging as the true favorites" to sign Keuchel. The 31-year-old left-hander became a free agent in October.
Teams were required to give up a pick in the MLB Draft if they signed Keuchel before Sunday, June 2, because the Astros gave Keuchel a qualifying offer. Keuchel rejected the qualifying offer, which was a one-year, $17.9 million contract from the Astros in November.
That window expired at midnight Monday.
Agent Scott Boras said last week that Keuchel would be ready to pitch within a week of signing with a Major League club. Keuchel has been throwing between 95 and 104 pitches in simulated games every five days to stay in shape.
Keuchel went 12-11 with a 3.74 ERA in a career-high 34 starts last year. He struck out 153 hitters in 204 1/2 innings.
The veteran left-hander only allowed four runs in 10 postseason innings. Houston lost to the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series.
The Yankees have overcome a plethora of injuries to lead the AL East Division with a 38-20 record. Ace Luis Severino has not pitched this year as he recovers from rotator cuff inflammation and a muscle injury in his back.
Veteran Masahiro Tanaka is 3-4 with a 3.20 ERA in 12 starts. Domingo German is 9-1 with 71 strikeouts in 64 innings but has struggled in his last two starts.
J.A. Happ has a 4.83 ERA in 12 starts and has allowed 15 home runs this year. Offseason trade acquisition James Paxton returned from the injured list last week and has a 2.81 ERA in his eight starts.
CC Sabathia has a 3.61 ERA in nine starts but has only averaged just over five innings per outing. Sabathia previously announced this will be his final season.
Keuchel is 76-63 with a 3.66 ERA since debuting in 2012. He won the AL Cy Young Award in 2015 and pitched his entire career for the Astros before entering free agency.