Hernandez could receive looks from contenders if he becomes free agent

Livan Hernandez, designated for assignment by the Minnesota Twins on Friday, should learn Tuesday whether he has cleared waivers and will become a free agent -- and if he is cut loose, he is expected to have an array of choices among contenders, including the New York Mets and Colorado Rockies.

Hernandez, 33, was 10-8 with a 5.48 ERA with the Twins, averaging almost exactly six innings in his 23 starts; he had allowed 199 hits in 139.2 innings, with 29 walks and 54 strikeouts.

The Mets are swiftly developing a need for pitching depth, with the recent shift of John Maine to the disabled list and the forearm troubles of closer Billy Wagner. Hernandez formerly pitched for the Expos when current Mets GM Omar Minaya worked in Montreal.

The Rockies have had problems all season filling the back end of their rotation, demoting Franklin Morales to the minors early in the year and recently cutting Mark Redman. The Atlanta Braves, who have been hammered by injuries this year, may also have interest in Hernandez.

The right-hander signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Twins, and his contract also includes $2 million in performance bonuses. If he becomes a free agent, he would play for the prorated minimum salary for the final seven weeks of this season. Something else for the contenders to consider: He is 6-3 with a 3.97 ERA in nine post-season series in his career.

Buster Olney covers baseball for ESPN The Magazine.