Will owners finally see the light

Although there is no official salary cap, every team -- with the exception of one -- has instituted one for itself.

Updated: November 10, 2003, 9:06 AM ET
By Jim Baker | MLB Insider
With the general manager confab starting today in Arizona, it's a good time to look at the state of the game in terms of contracts. What is the future of player contracts and what can we expect to see teams offering this year's monster crop of free agents (around 200 at last count)?

While it is generally acknowledged that the salaries paid to top players in 2000 are now a spike on the sport's EKG, those at the top of the food chain are still very much ahead of those at the bottom. In fact, this trend is likely to continue. Baseball is moving into an era of extreme salary stratification. This is because while there is no official salary cap, every team (with the exception of one -- see if you can guess which) has instituted one for themselves. Coming on the heels of an era of largesse, what this means is that rosters are still chock full of players who have generous contracts soaking up large portions of total payroll budgets. This leaves very little room left over to pay players in the middle ground as teams try to fill out their rosters with the cheapest alternatives available.

This brings up some questions:

Jim Baker is an author at Baseball Prospectus and a frequent contributor to Page 2. You can e-mail Jim at