Lucchino: Sox, Yanks 'different animals'

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It wouldn’t be spring training without Boston Red Sox president Larry Lucchino taking a shot at the New York Yankees.

On Friday, he didn’t drop an “Evil Empire,” but did discuss what he sees are increasingly divergent paths between the Red Sox and their rivals in the Bronx.

“We’re very different animals and I’m proud of that difference. I always cringe when people lump us together with other baseball teams,” Lucchino said. “[The Yankees] are still, this year at least, relying heavily on their inimitable old-fashioned Yankee style of high-priced, long-term free agents. I can’t say I wish them well, but I think we have taken a different approach.”

While the Red Sox have spent less on free agents the last two years, the Yankees continue to open the safe and hand out big-time contracts. This offseason, the Yankees inked Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year deal worth $153 million, right-handed pitcher Masahiro Tanaka to a seven-year $155 million deal and committed a combined $130 million to outfielder Carlos Beltran (three years) and catcher Brian McCann (five years).

“Maybe, if you compare what we did last year in the offseason to what they’ve done this year; there is quite a contrast there,” Lucchino said, referring to Boston’s strategy of signing players with less star power to much shorter deals. “But I’ll quickly say we do keep open the prospect of signing a long-term deal with a free agent, or paying a sizeable amount of money to attract a star in his prime. We haven’t ruled that out.

“There’s just a rebuttable presumption against doing that, but you can rebut it. The circumstances can allow for you to go ahead and do it, and the Yankees do it more often as a matter of course. For us, it would be more the exception than the rule.”

What about Ellsbury deciding to sign with New York?

“The proposal they made to him was obviously very appealing to him and sometimes you have to say ‘goodbye’ to people you would like to keep here, because the appeal of the economics is so great,” Lucchino said.

Late last month, Lucchino called the Yankees “a different flavor of ice cream than anyone else in baseball” when asked what he thought of them shelling out nearly $500 million in free-agent contracts this offseason.