Damn Julio, saying Hellickson would be preferable to Eickhoff, that's almost as harsh as Ed!
Legitimately though, I don't know if we can say he'd be preferable to any of those guys, Hutchison included (if only because Hutchison is young and controllable). He may just be in full decline. And I believe Lively put up more WAR than Hellickson did for the Phillies last year, in fewer starts/innings.
I think the Nats might just be doing Boras a favor here, especially with all those opt-outs. Hellickson may not actually be better than A.J. Cole (who is out of options) and if they really think Cole can't do it why not just get Cobb? (Though the answer is $). I mean, we're talking the 5th starter here on a team with two aces and Gio Gonzalez. My guess is Hellickson spends April in the minors as insurance/depth, this just gives him a place to land, and be seen. If the Nats have an injury or Cole can't hack it he's there and if not he'll find another team eventually.