Prospects impacted by free agency

Albert Pujols is irreplaceable, but the Cardinals do have a promising young bat who is almost ready to step into his shoes. Jeff Curry/Getty Images

The frequent questions concerning when Team X will bring up Player Y are difficult to answer, as midseason injuries and productivity issues in the big leagues can play as large a role as the prospect's performance in determining a call-up.

That changes in the offseason, when free agency can create sudden and glaring holes. We're taking an early look at free agency here at Insider, and it's time to consider how this offseason market could affect some of the game's best prospects.

Here are some big-name free agents whose departure could create opportunities, as well as some not-so-big ones who could nonetheless clear a path. When determining whether your club should sign (or re-sign) a particular player, it helps to know if they have a solution waiting in the wings down on the farm.

Albert Pujols, 1B St. Louis Cardinals

While all indications suggest the Cardinals will do everything within their power to keep the three-time MVP, what if somebody throws Pujols more money than the Cardinals are willing to match?