SAN DIEGO -- The Padres may have found a front-runner for the No. 5 spot in their starting rotation -- and he's from outside the organization.

The Padres signed 27-year-old right-handed pitcher Shawn Hill to a Minor League contract on Monday, less than a week after he was released by the Washington Nationals.

Hill had reconstructive elbow surgery in 2005 and had another procedure last year to remove calcium deposits from his elbow.

Hill has a 7-15 record and a 4.93 ERA in 37 Major League starts with Montreal and the Nationals from 2004-2008. He was 1-5 with a 5.83 ERA in 12 starts with the Nationals last year.

The other candidate for the job, internally at least, is right-hander Walter Silva, who has pitched well in camp. Josh Geer, once considered a strong candidate for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, was optioned to Triple-A Portland on Monday.