BOSTON -- Cross off one item from the Boston Red Sox's lengthy trade-deadline shopping list.
Seeking a right-handed bat for their lefty-leaning bench and greater infield depth, the Red Sox acquired veteran Aaron Hill on Thursday from the Milwaukee Brewers for Triple-A right-hander Aaron Wilkerson and Double-A infielder Wendell Rijo. The Brewers will also help subsidize some of the approximately $6 million left on the final year of Hill's contract, half of which was already being paid by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
"We've been looking for a right-handed hitter infielder that could play third base for a while," said Dave Dombrowski, the Red Sox president of baseball operations. "We're in a position where we're trying to win this thing. We think [Hill] makes us better."
Hill, 34, has played primarily third base for the Brewers this season. Dombrowski stopped short of saying Hill will platoon with lefty-hitting third baseman Travis Shaw, but considering Shaw is batting .211 with a .620 OPS against lefties, it seems likely Hill will take some of those at-bats.
Shaw also bruised his left foot in Wednesday night's 11-6 victory over the Texas Rangers. But Dombrowski said the Red Sox were talking to the Brewers about Hill long before Shaw suffered the injury, which is not considered serious after X-rays taken Thursday were negative.
Dombrowski can now concentrate exclusively on strengthening the pitching staff, both the rotation and the bullpen. Red Sox starters have combined for a 4.82 ERA, 10th in the American League entering Thursday night. And setup man Carson Smith's season-ending Tommy John elbow surgery has left Boston in need of another late-inning reliever to ease the burden on 41-year-old Koji Uehara.
"That fourth and fifth [starter] spot, we've been searching," Dombrowski said. "We have had more conversations over pitching. I'm not sure that means we're any closer to making a deal or not."
In acquiring Hill, the Red Sox seemingly traded from their limited pitching depth. Although Wilkerson is having a strong season -- 2.14 ERA in 16 starts between Double-A and Triple-A -- Dombrowski said the former independent league pitcher was never a serious candidate to get called up because of his lack of major league experience.
Indeed, when the Red Sox needed a starter last week and neither Henry Owens nor Roenis Elias were pitching well enough in Triple-A to merit consideration, they bypassed Wilkerson for Sean O'Sullivan, whose 5.99 career ERA was outweighed by his 55 starts in the big leagues.
"I don't think we could count on Aaron being a guy stepping forward in this situation," Dombrowski said. "Being [he has] never pitched in the big leagues, to be a key factor in this race."
Hill batted .283 with eight homers, 29 RBIs and a .780 OPS in 254 at-bats for the out-of-contention Brewers. Although Hill has been an everyday player for most of his career, the Red Sox expect he will be productive off the bench.
Dombrowski said the Red Sox got good reports on Hill from third-base coach Brian Butterfield, who coached Hill with the Toronto Blue Jays. Hill also played briefly for manager John Farrell in Toronto and is close friends with Red Sox scout Jaymie Bane.
"It's a situation that we did check with everybody and got real good reports on his makeup and what he brings to the ballclub," Dombrowski said. "He's got a nice swing. He's a veteran player who knows how to keep himself in shape and ready to go."
To clear a spot on the 40-man roster, outfielder Ryan LaMarre has been designated for assignment. LaMarre was 0-for-5 with two strikeouts after getting called up from Triple-A Pawtucket last month.