Well, this mainly applies to either NL-only or AL-only auction leagues, so I figured I'd put that up front so those that aren't interested can skip the thread. Mixed leagues will feel almost nothing from this change, so it doesn't really apply.
I've noticed that a lot of players worth above $15 or so have made the migration to the AL, with very few returning, which can severely affect player valuation in both leagues, which I'll explain later.
So far this offseason, these players have left the NL for the AL:
Javier Vazquez ($$$)
Mark Kotsay ($$)
Kevin Brown ($$)
Curt Schilling ($$$$)
Tino Martinez ($$)
Gary Sheffield ($$$)
Javy Lopez ($$)
Kenny Lofton ($$)
Those coming to the NL:
Nick Johnson ($$)
Ramon Hernandez ($$)
AJ Pierzynski ($$)
Kazuo Matsui (from Japan) ($$)
Vladimir Guerrero ($$$$$)
Pudge Rodriquez ($$$)
Greg Maddux ($$)
Juan Gonzalez ($$)
Ugueth Urbina ($$)
Fred McGriff ($$)
Sidney Ponson ($$)
As you can see, that's a lot of dollars flowing from the NL to the AL, with not a whole lot coming back in return. And Vlad and Pudge choosing AL teams (as it doesnt seem like any NL team has any money left), looks to be a strong possibility at this point.
What does this mean for you? Well, if you're in an NL-only keeper league and you there are more dollars to chase fewer stars, those current stars go up in value. So even if you've got Brian Giles at $40, he may be considered a keeper at that price, rather than cutting him and picking him up in draft.
And since some of the losses are in the steals category (like Lofton and Guerrero (?)), you might want to hang onto those speedsters rather than pay out the ear for them at the draft.
IMO, if you play NL-only and you're considering keeping a player for 2004, do it! You most likely will not get him back at the same price in next year's draft, because there will be a lot more money floating around than usual.
However, the AL is a completely different beast. Now you're adding a ton of talent to an already stacked league, so that can't make much of a difference, can it? WRONG! You need to cut any player from your roster of keepers that isn't a bargain, since you'll have the best shot at getting guys in the auction for cheap prices.
I think that Vlad and A-Rod will be the only AL players to get above the $40 mark, due to the tremendous amount of 5 category studs in the AL. But with so many owners wasting their money in the early going like usual, there will be a TON of bargains in the $15, $10, and $1 areas, if you have the money to spend coming into the draft.
If I had A-Rod for anything over $40, I would consider cutting him in an AL-only league to have the salary available in the draft. Most likely he won't earn $40 during the season, unless he tacks an extra 10 stolen bases onto his 2003 numbers.
Look for the bargains in an AL-league, and hoard your regulars in the NL-league is my opinion with this AL-talent chomping winter. Anyone have any responses?