A contract year in baseball—or in this instance, possibly even a season before a contract year—is a crucial time in a ballplayer's life.
There is a ton of pressure to perform at an elite level because the possibility of a multi-million dollar contract weighs in the balance.
The most notable contract year in recent memory belongs to Carlos Beltran when he hit .435 with eight home runs and 14 RBI for the Houston Astros during the 2004 playoffs. He was then rewarded with a seven-year, $119 million contract with the New York Mets.
Sure, that contract was largely based on the player he developed into with the Kansas City Royals, but that historic postseason in a contract year certainly drove up the price a considerable amount.
And while there are players in baseball that are driving up their asking price by millions of dollars this season, there are also players that are playing themselves out of a enormous contract.
Here's a list of five players that have cost themselves a lot of money in 2012.
Before Brian Wilson elected to undergo Tommy John surgery at the beginning of the season, there was no better closer in the game.
His ERA, WHIP, innings pitched and K:BB ratio improved each year from 2008 to 2010. And even though it was an off year, Wilson still complied 36 saves in 2011 with a modest 3.11 ERA.
But after the second Tommy John surgery of his career, it's possible that no team, including the Giants, will be willing to offer him a multi-year contract after his arbitration eligibility ends in 2014.
However, according to Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area, Wilson will start throwing the ball again in October, which will be six months after the surgery.
It will be interesting to see how Wilson bounces back next year, beard and all.
Last year might've been the season that Ubaldo Jimenez cost himself millions of dollars, but this season was the nail in the coffin.
After winning 19 games in 2010, Jimenez posted a 4.68 ERA with the Colorado Rockies and Cleveland Indians last year, and followed that up with an unearthly 5.59 ERA this season.
Jimenez will be under contract next year, however, so he will have one more season to prove why he is still worthy of a multi-year deal, but there aren't too many pitchers in baseball that have looked as bad as Jimenez has the past two years.
This one is tricky.
Based on production alone, Josh Hamilton is one of, if not the premier, player in baseball at the moment. And he's only 31 years old, so teams will be willing to throw boatloads of money his way in order to lure him away from the Texas Rangers at the season's end.
But his performance on the field isn't going to be the only thing that teams look at when trying to decide whether or not to break the bank for Hamilton's services.
Hamilton's struggles with drug and alcohol addiction have been well documented, and it kept him out of baseball from 2002 to 2007.
And while Hamilton is clean at the moment, he did relapse back in February, which is very common for addicts of all sorts to do throughout the course of his or her life.
And while I, along with the rest of the country, would love to see Hamilton succeed and stay clean, there is no guarantee that he'll be able to.
His recent personal issue with chewing tobacco could be looked at from multiple perspectives, but I find it encouraging that Hamilton wishes to keep all addictive substances out of his life.
Will his battles with drugs and alcohol prevent him from receiving a hefty contract this offseason? Of course not. Hamilton is a class act and a great ballplayer, needless to say. And let's face it: he's still going to receive the richest contract of any baseball player in the winter.
But will teams take it into account? Absolutely. Addiction is noting to take lightly.
Unfortunately for Tim Lincecum, he set the bar too high for himself.
He burst onto the scene in 2007 and took home the Cy Young Award twice in his first two full seasons in the majors. He then won four games in the 2010 postseason and put on a dominant performance in the clinching game of World Series against the Texas Rangers.
Lincecum became one of the most decorated pitchers in the history of baseball when looking at the first four seasons of his major league career, but things took a turn for the worst in 2012.
Lincecum didn't just take a step backwards, but he completely fell off the cliff and became statistically the worst starting pitcher in the majors at a certain point in time.
Fortunately for Lincecum, however, he still has one year left on his current contract with the Giants. But even though he'll have another season to prove why he's still worth a $100 million contract, teams are going to be hesitant to dish out that much money to a 29-year-old undersized starter that is one year removed from posting an ERA over 5.00.
I wouldn't be surprised to see Lincecum put up numbers next year similar to those of his 2011 season, but it'll be interesting to see how much his horrific 2012 campaign will cost him when it's all said and done.
No team will pay him for what he's accomplished in the past, but what they think he can do in the future.
No player in baseball has lost out on as much money as Melky Cabrera in 2012.
Cabrera was suspended for testing positive for PED's earlier this month, and it's going to end up costing him upwards of $60 million this upcoming winter.
He was well on his way towards breaking the bank in the offseason. He was leading the league in hits before he was suspended, and at 28-years-old he is right in the middle of his prime.
The San Francisco Giants were likely to dish out a contract in the ballpark of five years, $60 million solely because the fan base would've rioted had Brian Sabean and Giants brass elected not to bring him back. Cabrera became a very popular player in the Bay Area, and he even spawned the birth of the Melk Men and Melk Maids.
But now, Cabrera will be lucky if he gets more than just a one-year contract.