[UPDATED AT 1:38 P.M.]
VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals have added another veteran starter to the mix after all, and it's a very familiar face to everyone.
Livan Hernandez has agreed to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training, a club source confirmed, and the right-hander will join the competition for three open spots in the Opening Day rotation.
Hernandez, who turned 35 on Saturday (and yes, that's his listed age, which you are free to question), will earn $900,000 if he makes the roster. There are numerous incentives included in the deal. So, will Livo make it to D.C. on April 5? You've got to believe he will, based on a number of factors.
-- His steady track record. There are few more known quantities in baseball than Livan Hernandez. He has made at least 30 starts and thrown at least 180 innings each of the last 12 seasons. He's posted double-digit wins in 10 of those seasons. Think about that for a moment. That's consistency.
-- His history with this organization. Livo was the ace of the rotation when the franchise relocated from Montreal. He started the first game in Nationals history, the first home game in Nationals history and again on Opening Day 2006. And he returned to make eight starts last fall, declaring at the end he wanted nothing more than to come back for another season.
-- The Nats need known quantities right now, especially in their rotation. There's plenty of intriguing possibilities to get excited about at some point this season -- Stephen Strasburg, Chien-Ming Wang, Ross Detwiler, another young starter -- but at some point the Nats have to know they can send a bonafide experienced, healthy pitcher to the hill every fifth day. They've got that in John Lannan and Jason Marquis. They didn't know with 100 percent certainty they had that anywhere else. Now they do.
So, how might the Opening Day rotation shake out now? Here's one humble prediction, with the caveat here that plenty more can change over the next five-plus weeks...
1. John Lannan
2. Jason Marquis
3. Livan Hernandez
4. Craig Stammen
5. Matt Chico
Obviously, that's not set in stone by any means. I'm going to guess that Scott Olsen isn't 100 percent healthy by the end of camp. He certainly could be and ensure his place in the rotation. I'm also going to guess that Stammen and Chico distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack of young guys (Garrett Mock, J.D. Martin). Plus, each of those two has a small track record of success in the big leagues.
Will the rotation still look like that on June 1? I seriously doubt it. But between now and then, the Nats felt like they needed to do something to shore things up and give the rest of this club a chance to come out of the gates faster than they have the last four years.
Livan Hernandez can help make that happen.