The ascent from the bottom is going to start at the league's highest altitude for Greg Holland.
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Holland, trying to work his way back to being an elite closer after missing the entire 2016 season due to Tommy John surgery, agreed to a one-year, $7 million deal with the Rockies on Wednesday, according to Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan. The deal includes closing and non-closing incentives that could double the value of the contract to $14 million.
For the Rockies, it's a low-risk bet on a return to form for a guy who, from 2011 to 2014, was among the best relievers in the game. In that four-year stretch, Holland owned a microscopic 1.86 ERA and 358/91 K/BB ratio over 256 1/3 innings while a member of the Royals.
An up and down 2015 season preceded elbow surgery late that year, and he spent all of 2016 rehabbing. He hit the market this winter looking for a chance to prove he can once again be that dominant pitcher.
Perhaps the bigger question is how effective Holland will be in his first year back. Relievers have traditionally taken less time to get back, and have taken less time to return to something resembling their prior form, than starters when it comes to Tommy John surgery, so Holland's year off in 2016 may allow him to get back to previous levels more quickly in 2017.
His presence on the Rockies may also force some prospective owners to stay away from Holland this spring, but hard-throwing relievers have fewer issues with the Coors Field altitude than starters. All that adds up to a high-risk pick for fantasy players in drafts, but one that could pay huge rewards.
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Dyson To Get Look At Leadoff?
The Mariners' flurry of moves earlier this month may have created a sneaky sleeper candidate this spring.
The team swapped outfielders when they sent Seth Smith to the Orioles and traded for the Royals' Jarrod Dyson, and manager Scott Servais on Thursday said Dyson will get a shot as the team's leadoff hitter during Cactus League play. Another recently acquired player, shortstop Jean Segura, would bat second in that scenario, per Seattle Times reporter Ryan Divish.
We've seen this movie before. Dyson was a popular sleeper pick last season when he was set to enter the season as one of the Royals' everyday outfielders, but he missed the first few weeks of the season with an injury and then hit .215/.271/.262 through his first 20 games, forcing many fantasy owners to cut bait.
Dyson rebounded from there, and he actually finished the season hitting a respectable .278/.340/.388 with 30 steals. It was the fourth time in his past five seasons that Dyson has stolen at least 30 bases, despite never appearing in more than 120 games.
That's the appeal if the 32-year-old can grab and hold onto the Mariners' leadoff gig. With Segura, Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager hitting behind him, Dyson could steal plenty of bases and score plenty of runs atop the M's lineup.
If he gets off to another slow start, of course, Segura or even someone like Leonys Martin could nab that role instead. But if Dyson is the guy coming out of spring, he'll be a must-own in most leagues.
Quick Hits: Hyun-Jin Ryu told Yonhap News Agency in South Korea that he is pain-free leading into spring training. Ryu has logged just one start at the major league level over the last two seasons because of shoulder, groin, and elbow injuries, but he is hoping to make up for lost time this summer. "Right now, I'd say I am in better shape than I normally would be at the start of spring training," Ryu told reporters at Incheon International Airport. "I threw four bullpen sessions while training in Japan. I have no pain at the moment." ... Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Wednesday that the team has kicked around the idea of having Julio Urias begin the year in extended spring training in an effort to limit his innings. If it happens, Urias may be available at a discount in drafts, but make no mistake, he'll still hold plenty of value in 2017 ... Victor Martinez needed surgery in October for a sports hernia. Tigers general manager Al Avila made that revelation on Thursday afternoon. V-Mart is almost fully recovered by this point and should be ready for the start of the 2017 regular season, though he figures to be eased into activities this spring for precautionary reasons ... According to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the Mets are showing interest in free agent reliever Sergio Romo. They've also been tracking the markets for Joe Smith and Jerry Blevins as they look to make one final upgrade to their bullpen group ... Todd Frazier is wearing a splint as he recovers from a sprained finger on his left hand, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Frazier first started feeling symptoms in the final few days of the season and it returned when he recently resumed workouts. He has undergone and MRI and will soon go for another follow-up exam, but he expects to be hitting by mid-February and to be ready for the start of spring training ... Cubs signed LHP Brett Anderson to a one-year, $3.5 million contract. The agreement was reported earlier this week and is now official. The deal reportedly includes incentives which could max out at $10 million. It's a low-risk, high-reward signing that the World Champions can afford ... Mariners manager Scott Servais announced Thursday that Felix Hernandez will be the club's Opening Day starter on April 3 against the Astros. Even despite his underwhelming 2016, it's not surprising that he will once again lead the club's rotation, even if only in title, in 2017 ... Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times passes along word that the Rays have checked in on Mike Napoli ... Reds signed RHP Scott Feldman to a one-year, $2.3 million contract. He'll presumably be given a chance to earn a spot in the Reds' season-opening starting rotation this spring ... Nationals re-signed INF Stephen Drew to a one-year, $3.5 million contract. The deal includes another $1.2 million in performance-based incentives. He'll be a utility player again this season.