Shawn Hill, released last week by the Washington Nationals, has signed a minor league free agent contract with the San Diego Padres.

Photo (c) Cheryl Nichols 2009. All rights reserved.

Hill, just 27, has automatically emerged as a "front-runner" for the Padres No. 5 spot in the rotation, according to, despite making only 12 starts last year due to recurring discomfort in his forearm and elbow. He eventually had surgery on to remove calcium deposits and bone spurs.

It will be interesting to watch Hill's progression from afar. If he has indeed returned to health and his sinker is effective, he could yet resurrect his career and may very well thrive in the pitching-friendly Petco Park. Those are mighty big "ifs". I much rather would have watched him try to resurrect his career in DC or Syracuse, a move he probably would have accepted given the choice of that or release.

One still must wonder if the move was purely financially driven, given the timing of Hill's release was the day he would have been due his entire salary. A salary, by the way, Hill earned by defeating the Nats in arbitration. If Hill had lost that arbitration, or if the team had not offered arbitration in the first place and Hill had come to camp as an NRI, would he still be a National?

I guess we'll never know.