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Cherington takes Ellsbury's departure in stride

General manager begins weighing potential options for Red Sox in center field

BOSTON -- Jacoby Ellsbury's imminent signing with the Yankees does not fall under the category of stunning for Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington.

If Ellsbury was leaving Boston, it was likely going to be for a team that blew away the market. Many times through the years, the Yanks have been that team.

"Certainly, New York is always going to be one of those potential spots," Cherington said. "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.

Ellsbury's seven-year, $153 million deal was simply above and beyond where the Red Sox were willing to go.

"We felt like there was an area, a range we were willing to go to, and the market just got past that," Cherington said. "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."

The Red Sox have options in center field, whether it is simply to hand the position to prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. or to acquire a replacement via trade or free agency. Or perhaps it will be some combination of both.

"If we look back, 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," Cherington said. "Part of our offseason was going to be figuring out those four spots either by retaining one or 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."

Baseball's Winter Meetings take place from Monday through Dec. 12 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., at which point Cherington's roster for next season could come even more into focus.

Ian Browne is a reporter for Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne.

Boston Red Sox, Jacoby Ellsbury