Reports: Rockies claim Hernandez
Veteran had been designated by Twins on Aug. 1
DENVER -- The Rockies' most glaring need this season has been for a proven fifth starter. On Tuesday, they reportedly finally got one.
According to the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News, Colorado claimed veteran right-hander Livan Hernandez off trade waivers before its game against Washington. By claiming Hernandez, the Rockies could be forced to pay the roughly $1.6 million left on his contract, unless the Twins try to work out a trade, the reports said. In addition, the Twins have the option of pulling Hernandez off waivers if a deal cannot be met.
FOXSports.com has reported that another National League team has claimed the veteran righty, but the Rockies were reportedly awarded Hernandez because it had the worst record of any claiming teams.
The move indicates that the Rockies' front office feels that the team still has a realistic shot at winning the National League West, despite trailing Arizona by eight games with 47 left to play.
"It shows that we're still trying," shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said. "We're not giving up. I know no one was, even if we didn't acquire him, but now there's an extra guy that can definitely help us."
In 23 games with Minnesota this season, Hernandez went 10-8 with a 5.48 ERA. However, Hernandez went 2-4 in his last six starts and was designated for assignment after Minnesota called up Francisco Liriano on Friday.
The Rockies are very familiar with Hernandez. He spent a year and a half pitching for the Diamondbacks before signing with Minnesota in the offseason. Hernandez was tagged for the loss against the Rockies in last year's NL Championship Series and is 7-9 with a 4.34 ERA in his career against Colorado.
"I've always been impressed with him," Tulowitzki said. "He hits his spots better than anybody. He's always given me fits, personally."
Most importantly, Hernandez, 33, provides the Rockies with something they've been desperately searching for out of the back end of their rotation: consistency. Hernandez has won at least 10 games in 10 of his 13 big league seasons.
Ironically, the move comes on the same day that on-and-off-again pitcher Jorge De La Rosa started against the Nationals. De La Rosa (5-6) has shown flashes of tremendous talent, but he has also been maddeningly inconsistent.
Against Washington, De La Rosa was the former. He gave up just two runs on six hits in a season-high seven innings. But his bold performance may have come too late. Before Tuesday's game, manager Clint Hurdle hinted that De La Rosa's time in the starting rotation was running out.
"Eventually, things aren't going to stay the same way," Hurdle said. "There's got to be some understanding that what you're doing isn't good enough to hold onto your position. And we'll find other options."
If the Rockies complete the deal, they would suddenly have a formidable rotation featuring All-Star Aaron Cook, Ubaldo Jimenez, Glendon Rusch and Hernandez. In addition, Jeff Francis, who won 17 games last season, is expected be activated and start on Wednesday, after missing more than a month with shoulder inflammation.
"It's exciting," Tulowitzki said. "We're still in it."
Jeff Birnbaum is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.