GM Ben Cherington: 'Market got past' where Red Sox were comfortable retaining Jacoby Ellsbury

December 04, 2013 - 11:52 am
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington suggested that, while the Red Sox "would have loved" to retain Jacoby Ellsbury through free agency, the asking price ultimately reached a point where the team wasn't comfortable doing so. He suggested that the fact that the center fielder -- whom the Sox selected in the first round of the 2005 draft -- ended up with the Yankees was not a huge surprise. "There has been a bunch of dialogue with Jacoby or more specifically with [Ellsbury's agent, Scott Boras] really since the season ended and the players left town. I met with Jacoby before he left Boston. Since then, I've been talking more to Scott. When you get into free agency with a player of Jacoby's caliber, you know going in that there's probably a handful of spots that he can end up. Certainly New York is always going to be one of those potential spots. "It's not altogether surprising that's where it ended up. We wish Jacoby well. He was obviously a really good player here during the time he was in Boston. He was a big part of two World Series teams. We would have loved to keep him. But we felt like there was an area, a range we were willing to go to and the market just got past that. So we wish him well and will continue to work on our offseason plans as we try to build the best team we can for next year." Cherington suggested that the Sox have not yet identified how they will go about replacing Ellsbury. He spoke highly of prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. as one possible option to replace Ellsbury in center, but suggested that the team will continue to explore other options this offseason. "In the beginning of the offseason, we knew that we had four sort of prominent position player free agents in [Jarrod Saltalamacchia], [Mike Napoli], [Stephen Drew] and Ellsbury. Part of our offseason was going to be figuring out those four spots either by retaining one of more of those guys or looking at alternatives. We certainly felt really good about some of the in-house alternatives and one of those guys was Jackie Bradley. It doesn't mean we wouldn't add an outfielder. It doesn't mean we wouldn't add a player at another spot. We're not going to talk about exactly what the team is going to look like on Opening Day because we don't have to yet. There's still time. We're working and we're going to work through different options and continue to pursue ways to make the team better, but we certainly feel fortunate that Jackie is in our organization and we would feel very good if he is playing center field if that's the way it plays out." Cherington did not get into the specifics of the team's decision to let Jarrod Saltalamacchia depart in free agency and to sign veteran A.J. Pierzynski to be the Sox' primary catcher for next season. He did praise Pierzynski's work behind the plate and overall game, suggesting that the 36-year-old emerged as the "right fit," while wishing Saltalamacchia well as he heads to the Marlins on a three-year, $21 million deal. "We talked to I guess every one of the prominent catcher free agents and also at least a couple teams about trades. As we got into the offseason, and I know we already said, we made it very clear that our preference was to maintain a level of experience behind the plate, at least going into next year. And obviously once we head into the offseason we have to sort of look at all the options and keep involved with everyone. In the end, we just felt like A.J. was the right fit for us," said Cherington. "With regards to Salty, we had a number of conversations with him. I'd rather not get into the specifics of those conversations except to say we really appreciate everything he did. Certainly Salty worked hard and overcame some adversity to become a very good primary catcher this year. He had a good year and put himself in a strong position going into free agency. If reports are accurate, I'm not sure that's been announced yet or not, we're happy for him. It's a good deal. We wish him well. But we felt like A.J. was the right fit for us and we're happy he's here."