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Red Sox scouting Jeremy Hellickson, Rich Hill

The Red Sox have been busy scouting potential rotation additions.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox may finally be getting ready to make a move for some rotation help, having been spotted scouting Jeremy Hellickson according to Jon Morosi. They have been spotted at Rich Hill starts as well, with the Athletics clear sellers with one of the best rental options available.

This doesn't really feel like news, frankly. It's technically new information, yes, but it's information that could have been predicted by anyone with even a tenuous grasp on Boston's situation this season. They need starting pitching, and Hill and Hellickson are two of the most obvious rental options that might be available to them.

Neither man is really a top-shelf arm, and neither one is under control through 2017, which is a very real concern for a Red Sox team facing a dire free agent talent pool on the mound. But there's clearly a stronger and weaker option here.

Hellickson is the latter, and the type of arm the Red Sox might have to settle for in the number five spot given that they also need a fourth man with Wright, Price, and Porcello the only locks in the rotation. While Hellickson once enjoyed great results with the Rays, there's perhaps no pitcher who benefited more from the Joe Maddon defenses behind him. When he finally had a normal BABIP year, his ERA ballooned over 5.00. From 2013 to today, he's pitched to a 4.65 ERA with peripherals that are only slightly better. He's been legitimately better with the Phillies this year, posting a career-high strikeout rate and career-low walk rate, but that still doesn't leave him looking particularly impressive.

That still makes him a good deal better than Boston's current options in the likes of Sean O'Sullivan and Clay Buchholz, however. Beggars, as they say, can't be choosers.

Hill is a much more exciting option at #5, and a much more viable one at #4. The Red Sox very much wish they'd kept Hill around in the first place after giving him a chance to revitalize his career in 2015. After pitching to a 1.55 ERA in 29 innings with the Sox, Hill signed a one-year deal in Oakland and has thus far proved that last season was no fluke. He's produced a 2.25 ERA with Oakland now over 76 innings, striking out 90 batters in the process leaning heavily on that looping curve of his.

With that increased quality will come an increased price, however. Jeremy Hellickson could probably be had for a low-level lottery ticket or two. The A's, however, can just make Rich Hill a qualifying offer, and in the pitching market that the league will be facing, there's almost no chance he accepts it. Even for a player as far north of 30 as Hill, there will be interest amongst teams already looking to sign another QO player. Oakland will walk away with a compensatory round draft pick even if they just sit tight and hold onto Hill through the end of the season.

Once again, then, the Red Sox will have to offer more than what a qualifying offer would bring back. And as with Josh Reddick, it's a bit hard to find that middle-ground in their farm system behind the top-four and ahead of the dregs. That's not to say it can't be done. Just that it's likely to be difficult. There's something to be said for the idea of packaging Reddick and Hill and maybe someone else to scale things up, but that's actually less appealing to the Red Sox than making multiple smaller deals. They would likely rather sell off big chunks of their system than lose even one of Moncada, Benintendi, Espinoza, or Devers. If any of those four are going to be dealt, one has to imagine it will involve at least one big-name longer-term piece rather than filler or rental players.

Hill is the best talent that is clearly available and won't bring the big four prospects into the trade conversation. But with the Athletics holding all the cards in a thin trade market, it will likely be a fight for the Red Sox to come away with him. Perhaps that's where Hellickson comes in, or perhaps he's involved either way. Whatever the case, the Red Sox certainly need someone to pitch some innings without leaving them behind 5-0 before the second is over. At least there's finally some clear action on that front.