ORLANDO — It was no surprise to Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington that shortstop Stephen Drew, center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, and first baseman Mike Napoli officially declined their qualifying offers on Monday.
The free agents were offered one-year deals worth $14.1 million last week. If they sign with another team, the Red Sox would receive a supplemental first-round draft pick.
Cherington said the Red Sox have held discussions with all three players about contract parameters. The Sox, he said, also remain interested in catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, reliever Joel Hanrahan, and infielder John McDonald.
“There’s real interest. But nothing more than that,” Cherington said after the first day of the general manager meetings. “We’ve had conversations. There’s real interest at different levels in all six of them.”
The Red Sox, major league sources said, have had more extensive talks with Napoli and agent Brian Grieper about a new contract. Napoli hit .259 with an .842 OPS in 139 games in his first season in Boston. He was second on the team with 23 home runs and 92 RBIs.
Napoli has said several times since the end of the World Series that he would prefer to stay with the Red Sox.
“We absolutely have an interest in having him back,” Cherington said.
The Red Sox and Napoli agreed to a one-year contract last winter after a physical showed a degenerative condition in his hips. An MRI taken after the World Series showed nothing that caused any greater concern, Cherington said.
Napoli has said the condition was brought under control medically.
“Mike and his agent have been fully transparent with what’s going on and we appreciate that,” Cherington said. “The most important thing, I think, is that he played a full year. We don’t have any reason to have any more concern than we did last winter.”
Manager John Farrell said last week that he liked the idea of Drew returning because of the depth it would offer. But a deal could be hard to come by. Drew and Jhonny Peralta are the top shortstops on the free agent market and Drew could merit a long-term contract. Drew’s market value could be hampered by his now being attached to a draft pick.
Ellsbury has steadfastly refused offers of a contract extension and, like Jonathan Papelbon in 2011, is now in position for a significant contract via free agency. Based on the current market, Ellsbury could land a deal well in excess of $120 million.
The Red Sox are expected to meet further with Ellsbury’s agent, Scott Boras, this week.
With the potential of three extra draft picks coming their way, the Red Sox could be more inclined to give up their first-round pick (No. 30) by signing a free agent who was given a qualifying offer.
The Sox could have interest in Braves catcher Brian McCann, Mariners first baseman Kendrys Morales, and Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran.
GM is honored
The Sporting News selected Cherington as baseball’s Executive of Year. He received 15 votes from a panel of 31 major league executives. Neal Huntington of the Pirates was second and Dayton Moore of the Royals was third.
The award has been given out since 1936. But only two Red Sox executives — owner Tom Yawkey (1946) and GM Dick O’Connell (1967 and ’75) — had won before Cherington.
“Definitely unexpected,” he said. “I was telling people in the room that obviously I consider this an award for the organization and not for me.
“Coming off the year we had in 2012, I also sort of see it as usually an award that goes to an organization that does [good] work over a period of time and not necessarily one year. So it’s a great honor for the organization. It just speaks to the hard work that a lot of people have done.”
Cherington went on to thank the ownership, his staff, Farrell, the coaches, and players. But it was Cherington who engineered the rebuilding of the last-place Red Sox with a series of successful free agent signings last winter. Cherington also pushed for Farrell to replace Bobby Valentine as manager.
The American League and National League Managers of the Year will be announced Tuesday. Farrell, Cleveland’s Terry Francona, and Bob Melvin of the Athletics are the AL finalists. The winner, selected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, will be revealed on MLB Network at 6 p.m. . . . Second baseman Dustin Pedroia is scheduled to have surgery to repair the torn ligament in his left thumb Tuesday in Phoenix. The extent of the procedure will not be known until doctors get a better look but Cherington said Pedroia should be ready for spring training regardless . . . Barry Praver, the agent for Manny Ramirez, said his client is interested in playing in Japan or the majors next season. Ramirez, 41, has not played in the majors since a five-game stint with the Rays in 2011 . . . MLB is joining up with MTV and David Ortiz will have a big role. Ortiz and Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen will be executive producers of a weekly 30-episode series for MTV2. The show will be shot from inside the MLB Fan Cave in New York City.