The pressure that a player feels heading into the last season of his contract can be overwhelming at times, manifesting itself in a costly, mediocre performance on (and sometimes off) the field.
Just ask Chris Perez, who was coming off of back-to-back All-Star games heading into 2013. He his job as the Cleveland Indians' closer and had to settle for a one-year, $2.3 million deal as a middle reliever with the Los Angeles Dodgers—who gave $10 million to another former closer, Brian Wilson, to fill a similar role.
What a difference a year makes.
Whether it's continuing to perform at a high level or rebounding from a disappointing campaign, players in a contract year are often their own worst enemies, putting far too much pressure on themselves to have any chance of finding success. Other times, the pressure propels them to have a career year.
Here's a look at the 10 pending free agents who are under the most pressure heading into the season.
*Draft-pick compensation will certainly help to dictate the earning power that these players have, but as it's impossible to predict how the market will react, it was not taken into consideration.