Larry Lucchino: Sox, Yanks different

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Boston Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino, who has repeatedly mocked the New York Yankees for their spending, on Wednesday rejected a suggestion that his team has become "Yankee-like" in how it operates.

Since August, the Red Sox have spent over $300 million in new player acquisitions, assuming that the deal for 19-year-old Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada, who arrived here Wednesday for his physical, becomes official.

"Boy, there are a lot of things people could get me to say, but I could never admit to that," Lucchino said Wednesday morning. "I could never admit to that, not in my own mind, at least.

"We operate differently. They run their franchise. We run ours. ... There are going to be times we may look like we do some of the same things. But the pattern, the practice, the history are all very different."
Larry Lucchino, Red Sox CEO, on how his team differs from the Yankees

"We are different. We run our clubs differently. There's a commonality in our willingness to invest in sizable sums for baseball players, whether they be short-term additions or long-term development projects. So in that sense, we, the Dodgers, the Giants -- a lot of successful clubs -- are willing to pay the price and write checks."

Moncada's representative, David Hastings, confirmed Monday night that a term sheet had been signed in which the player had agreed to a $31.5 million signing bonus, which shattered the record for an international amateur signing.

Hastings said the Red Sox won out for Moncada's services over the Yankees, Dodgers and Padres.

"You've got to make a judgment every year," Lucchino said of the risk inherent in giving such a large sum to a 19-year-old to whom the Sox have had limited exposure. "It depends a lot on the strength of the recommendations of baseball operations and scouts. It's one thing to say, 'Hey we'd like to have this guy,' but it's another thing to say, 'This guy is a talent that could change a franchise for years to come.'''

Does Lucchino view Moncada as such?

"I hesitate to go that far,'' he said. "He got a very robust, enthusiastic recommendation from our scouts and people in baseball operations."

When the Red Sox lost out to the Yankees for Cuban defector Jose Contreras in late 2002 despite going to extraordinary lengths to sign him, Lucchino famously labeled the Yankees the "Evil Empire."

Why, then, Lucchino was asked Wednesday, shouldn't Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner also be calling the Red Sox an "Evil Empire"?

"It's a question of pattern and consistency over time -- that's one way to distinguish. But we're not going to not avail ourselves of what we think is a very good baseball opportunity because someone is going to compare us to the Yankees," Lucchino said.

"We operate differently. They run their franchise. We run ours. I can see, in this, we were in intense competition with the Yankees and Dodgers and the Padres, so there are going to be times we may look like we do some of the same things. But the pattern, the practice, the history are all very different.''

Lucchino called the Yankees a "different flavor of ice cream" after New York spent nearly $500 million in player acquisitions -- including former Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, catcher Brian McCann and Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka -- after the Red Sox won the World Series in 2013.

"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 in February 2014. "They are still ... 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."

Wednesday, Lucchino was asked whether there was really any difference in bottom-line spending among the Yankees, Red Sox and the Dodgers.

"Yeah, I think so," he said. "Have been historically."

And now?

"Well, we'll still be below both of them in terms of major league payroll,'' he said. "Where we will be near the top and where we should be is in the acquisition of amateur talent or foreign talent. The draft and acquisition of foreign players, those are areas we're kind of proud to be near the top.

"In player payroll, we've never been [at the top], at least in recent years, we've never been at the stratospheric levels of they and the Dodgers and some other teams."

Lucchino hastened to stress that nothing was yet official with Moncada, whom he met Wednesday morning for the first time. The Cuban infielder will report to minor league camp next week after the deal is finalized.

"Physical specimen," Lucchino said. "Pleasant. And he's still growing."