Much has been made of the importance of the contract year or “walk year” in Major League Baseball.
These scenarios can make or break a player’s ability to break the bank in free agency. The eligibility rules for MLB free agents are stiff: Players need six years of service time in order to make their first big paydays in most scenarios.
Many players enter their prime as they earn eligibility, and the stakes are high during contract years for this reason. Put up impressive numbers and you could earn yourself financial stability for life, but hit a slump or suffer through a yearlong injury and you could say goodbye to your chances at a big contract.
Jonathan Broxton's 2011 has been a classic example of the dreaded contract year struggle thus far. The big closer is currently on pace to destroy his earning potential next season when he becomes a free agent.
The 26-year-old has developed into one of the best relief arms in LA's pen over the last six seasons. He's converted 58 saves between 2009 and 2010, but his 2011 season has been dismal. Sporting an ERA approaching 6.00 and showing spotty command and velocity this season is doing nothing positive.
Time will tell whether Broxton can dig his 2011 season out of the gutter, but here's a look at some players who definitely weren't able to save their seasons.
With that said, I present to you some of the biggest contract-year chokes for pitchers since 2006.