- Full Count - http://fullcount.weei.com -

Ben Cherington on Jacoby Ellsbury, Cody Ross, Jerry Sands and the market for pitching

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It’s been a relatively quiet day on the trade rumor front for the Red Sox [1], to the point where the most interesting items to come out of GM Ben Cherington‘s nightly media session at the winter meetings related to activity of the first couple of days.

Foremost, while Cherington did not discuss the agreement that the team reached on Tuesday with outfielder Shane Victorino [2], he did make clear that in the aftermath of a signing that gives the Sox a second potential center fielder, he is not looking to trade Jacoby Ellsbury [3].

“You answer the phone and take the calls and listen to ideas. Our expectation is Jacoby will be here and be our center fielder,” said Cherington. “[Dealing Ellsbury] is not our intent. We’re expecting Jacoby to have a really good year in 2013 and be a huge part of what we’re doing.”

As for the level of interest in his center fielder, Cherington said, “I wouldn’€™t comment specifically. We have a number of guys who are really valued by other teams, so weve 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 the information and see what other teams are interested in doing.”

Secondly, Cherington said that he met with a player during team meetings. Colleague Rob Bradford confirmed that Cherington and manager John Farrell met with outfielder Josh Hamilton on Monday [4].

A few other notes:

— Though Cherington said that he hasn’t talked to outfielder Cody Ross [5] since signing Victorino, he didn’t rule out the possibility of bringing back the corner outfielder who performed so well in Boston last year on a one-year, $3 million deal.

“We’€™re open-minded about it. See where it goes,” the GM said. “I guess that any time you potentially add a player of sort of significant commitment dollar-wise, it makes it a little bit tougher to add more, but I don’€™t want to rule anything out. We’€™re still looking to improve the team.”

— Cherington said that the team is focused on adding a starter and adding one or two position players. He downplayed the likelihood of anything getting done before the team leaves Nashville on Thursday morning. He suggested that the market for starters “seems like it may be moving a little bit,” evident in the fact that both Dan Haren [6] (Nationals) and Joe Blanton [7] (Angels) have now added starters in free agency. Cherington said that he couldn’t define the relative likelihood of adding a starter through a trade or free agency. He also noted the team’s preference for shorter-term deals.

— With Thursday morning’s Rule 5 draft looming, Cherington suggested that the team hasn’t ruled out selecting a player, though he noted that there’s considerable value associated with the 40-man roster spot that would be needed to carry a pick. He added that he wouldn’t be surprised to see Sox prospects get selected through the draft. Notably, right-hander Josh Fields seems a near lock to get picked. Other possibilities for selection include outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker and relievers Ryan Pressly and Chris Martin.

— With the Sox seeking a backup first baseman with some positional versatility, first baseman/outfielder Jerry Sands (acquired from the Dodgers in the August blockbuster) could be a possibility, though the fact that he’s a right-handed hitter makes him something other than ideal given the presence of Mike Napoli [8] at first and Jonny Gomes and Shane Victorino in the outfield.

Cherington’s scouting report on Sands: “He’€™s played a lot of first base. He’€™s played a lot of outfield. We don’€™t know him quite as well as we know Gomez because Gomez was here. He’€™s a guy we’€™ve valued for a while. We were able to get him included in the Dodgers deal. His primary asset is right-handed power bat, versatile defender. He did a pretty good job in left field when we saw him this year, but he looks like a capable first baseman also.”

— Cherington didn’t rule out adding to the bullpen mix, though he noted that the team isn’t exactly making it a front-burner issue. “We’€™ve looked at that as something where we can be maybe a little more selective, opportunistic. We’€™re not rushing out to do things because we have some options and some depth there, but if there’€™s something that comes to us that feels like the right fit, we may consider doing something,” he said.