The Red Sox agreed to terms with outfielder Shane Victorino on a three-year deal Tuesday, ostensibly to play right field. But Victorino has been a center fielder for much of his career and his presence gives the Red Sox the flexibility to trade Ellsbury, who is scheduled to become a free agent after next season.
Major league sources told the Globe that the Sox were investigating trades and had spoken to several teams regarding Ellsbury. ESPN and other outlets reported much the same.
Those talks, apparently, were not fruitful. Because a day later, Cherington said trading Ellsbury was not in the plans.
“That’s not our intent,” said Cherington. “We’re expecting Jacoby to have a really good year in 2013 and be a huge part of what we’re doing. You answer the phone and take the calls and listen to ideas. But our expectation is Jacoby will be here and be our center fielder.”
At the same time, Boras was asked whether Ellsbury might agree to an extension with a team if he were traded.
“I do what Jacoby Ellsbury tells me to do,” said Boras. “I think Jacoby is focused on playing in Boston and seeing where things go after this year.”
Boras said his intent was to speak to Cherington in January about a contract for the 2013 season.
“Until we’re told otherwise, that’s the focus of it,” Boras said.
Cherington acknowledged that teams have inquired about players on the Red Sox roster.
“We have a number of guys who are really valued by other teams,” he said. “So we’ve been asked about a number of guys. We’re not looking to move guys off our roster. We’re looking to add talent to the roster, not move guys off at this point.
“We’ll see. You’ve got to listen and learn and have the conversation. We wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t at least have the dialogue and gather information and see what other teams are interested in doing.”
Ellsbury is almost certain to test his value in the open market. Whether it’s now or during the season, the Red Sox will wrestle with the idea of whether to trade him.
“We’ve done plenty of deals with [Boras] before, free agent deals [and] guys that are here,” Cherington said. “I think it’s more specific to the player and the situation that [the player] is in.”
If the Red Sox were to trade Ellsbury now, Victorino could shift to center field. Then the Red Sox could sign another player for right field.
Cherington said he met with a player while here. Major league sources said it was outfielder Josh Hamilton Monday.
Cherington also kept the door open on the idea of retaining right fielder Cody Ross.
“Yeah, we’re open-minded about it,” he said. “See where it goes. I suppose every time you potentially add a player to any sort of significant commitment dollar-wise, it makes it a little bit tougher to add more.
“I don’t want to rule anything out. We’re still looking to improve the team.”
The Red Sox have yet to formally announce the additions of Victorino and first baseman/catcher Mike Napoli. The players have to first pass physicals.
Victorino seems convinced. He took to Twitter Wednesday and posted a photograph of himself wearing a Red Sox hat.
“Proud again to call myself Red Sox,” he wrote.
But Cherington still refused to discuss Victorino in any detail.
“I’m glad he feels that way,” he said. “We’ve made some progress toward an outfielder.”
The meetings end Thursday. Cherington said he is not hopeful of adding another player before then. The Sox are seeking a starting pitcher along with some bench players.
“I’m not sure more gets done while we’re here,” he said. “We’re working on a number of things and we’ll keep working when we get back to Boston.”Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.