MLB Free Agents: Predicting the First 5 Players To Sign This Offseason

Jim MancariCorrespondent ISeptember 28, 2011

MLB Free Agents: Predicting the First 5 Players To Sign This Offseason

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    Though some high-profile free agents have already been locked up for next year, a plethora of talented players will head into the offseason on the open market.

    It’s impossible to predict who will be the first player signed this offseason, but a select few players may be more likely to sign early based on the other available talent.

    Several marquee names that have called one city home for an extended period may be starting fresh in 2012.

    Here are five players that could sign relatively quickly this offseason.

5. Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers

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    Prince Fielder is set to cash in huge this offseason.

    He will be a top candidate for NL MVP, and will have a chance to further prove his worth in the playoffs.

    Questions of his durability may still be raised, but Fielder has only missed 13 games since the 2006 season. Now that’s durability.

    He may sign quickly since another big time first baseman, Albert Pujols, will also be a free agent.

    There aren’t many teams that can afford either Fielder or Pujols that are in need of a first baseman.

    Fielder’s contract would set the bar for Pujols.

4. Hiroki Kuroda, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Hiroki Kuroda has become a forgotten entity out West since the Dodgers have floundered through much of this season.

    Despite a record below .500, Kuroda was been a consistent starter not only this season but throughout his career.

    His days in Los Angeles are likely numbered, and there may be a team willing to lock him up early.

    Kuroda would fit nicely as a contending team’s third or fourth starter.

3. C.J. Wilson, Texas Rangers

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    Since it’s likely that the New York Yankees will lock up C.C. Sabathia even if he opts out of his contract, C.J. Wilson will be the best available left-handed starting pitcher on the market.

    Depending on his postseason success, Wilson could be a candidate for a multi-year deal.

    The Texas Rangers would be wise to lock up Wilson.

    He’s one of the main reasons for the team’s success over the last two seasons, and deserves to be rewarded with a new contract.

    Even if Texas can’t re-sign him, other suitors will likely line up early for his services.

2. Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia Phillies

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    Though many teams looking to lure New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes may view Jimmy Rollins as a fallback option, those teams may not have that option for too long.

    Reyes will likely take a while to sign to weigh all his options.

    Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Phillies may just swoop in and negotiate to bring back the player who has been integral to the team’s five consecutive division titles.

    Rollins is rumored to want a four-year deal, which wouldn’t be too unreasonable for the Phillies.

1. Heath Bell, San Diego Padres

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    The market for closers this offseason will be fruitful.

    Jonathan Papelbon, Francisco Rodriguez, Jose Valverde, Matt Capps, Jonathan Broxton and Ryan Madson are all either free agents or have 2012 options on their contracts.

    However, Heath Bell is arguably the cream of the crop of this class.

    He’s recorded three straight 40-save seasons, and for a team that hasn’t been all that good.

    With all these teams likely needing closers, some may choose for an upgrade in signing Bell.

    He could be one of the first players signed this offseason.