As the 2021 MLB season approaches, many players find themselves in the final year of their contracts. For these players, a strong performance this season could mean a big payday in free agency, while a downturn in performance could lead to a much less lucrative outcome.

One of the most high-profile players in a contract year is Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager. Seager, who was the World Series MVP in 2020, will be looking to continue his hot streak this season in order to secure a big deal next offseason. He`ll be joined in the Dodgers` infield by third baseman Justin Turner, who is also playing for a new contract.

Meanwhile, in the American League, Detroit Tigers starter Matthew Boyd will be looking to prove that he can be a consistent front-line starter. Boyd had a strong 2019 season, but struggled in the shortened 2020 campaign. A strong season in 2021 could earn him a big deal next offseason.

Another AL pitcher in a contract year is Texas Rangers starter Kyle Gibson. Gibson had a forgettable 2020 season, but has been a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter in the past. If he can bounce back this season, he could be in line for a multi-year deal.

Outfielders Michael Conforto of the New York Mets and Starling Marte of the Miami Marlins are also in contract years. Conforto has been a consistent performer for the Mets over the past few seasons, and is looking for a big payday. Marte, who was traded from the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Marlins last season, will be looking to prove that he is still a productive player in his early 30s.

Finally, veteran first baseman Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves is in his contract year as well. Freeman, who won the NL MVP award in 2020, is one of the game`s best hitters and will be looking for a big deal to finish out his career.

As these players head into their contract years, they`ll be looking to put up big numbers and help their teams win games. For many of them, the stakes couldn`t be higher, as their performances this season will have a direct impact on their future earnings potential. It will be interesting to see how these players perform under the pressure of a contract year.