FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Boston Red Sox president Larry Lucchino views the big-spending New York Yankees and his more frugal team as “very different animals.”
The Red Sox won the World Series last year after signing several key players to short-term deals. The Yankees spent this offseason giving out expensive, long-term contracts in hopes of catching their rivals.
“We’re very different animals. I’m proud of that difference,” Lucchino said Friday after Boston’s spring training workout. “I always cringe when people lump us together. Other baseball teams sometimes do that. They are still, this year at least, relying heavily on their inimitable old-fashioned Yankee style of high-priced, long-term free agents. And I can’t say I wish them well. But I think that we have taken a different approach.”
After finishing in last place in the AL East in 2012, Bobby Valentine’s only year as manager, the Red Sox signed Shane Victorino for three years, Jonny Gomes for two and Mike Napoli and Stephen Drew for one. Under new manager John Farrell, who had been general manager Ben Cherington’s choice in 2012 while Lucchino preferred Valentine, Boston won its third championship in 10 years.
Lucchino’s remarks Friday were much milder than when he called the Yankees the “Evil Empire” several years ago.
“I feel bad for Larry,” Yankees president Randy Levine responded. “He constantly sees ghosts and is spooked by the Yankees. But I can understand why. Two years ago, under his and Bobby Valentine’s plan, the Red Sox were a last-place team.”
“Ben Cherington and the Red Sox did a great job in winning the World Series last year, but I’m confident that (general manager Brian Cashman, manager Joe Girardi) and our players are ready to compete with a great Red Sox team to a win a world championship.”
During the offseason, the Yankees signed former Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury for seven years at $153 million and right-hander Masahiro Tanaka for seven years at $155 million. They also added catcher Brian McCann (five years, $85 million) and outfielder Carlos Beltran (three years, $45 million). They also let second baseman Robinson Cano go to Seattle on a 10-year, $240 million deal.
“If you compare what we did last year in the offseason to what they’ve done this year, there’s quite a contrast there,” Lucchino said.
But he wouldn’t rule out signing “a star in his prime” to a rich, long-term contract.
“The Yankees do it more often, it seems to me,” Lucchino said, “as a matter of course. And for us it would be more the exception than the rule.”
It was hardly an exception after the 2010 season.
The Red Sox signed free agent outfielder Carl Crawford to a $142 million, seven-year contract and traded for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who had one year and $6.3 million left on his contract with San Diego. In April, they gave him a $154 million, seven-year extension. But they traded both to the Los Angeles Dodgers late in August 2012 while the Red Sox were headed for a 69-93 finish.
After winning the World Series last October, Boston’s most expensive addition was catcher A.J. Pierzynski for one year at $8.5 million.
The next significant deal likely will involve David Ortiz. In the last year of a two-year, $30 million contract, the designated hitter wants a one-year extension.
The Red Sox met Thursday with Ortiz and his agent, Fern Cuza.
“We are obviously not going to talk about the negotiations in any public way,” Lucchino said, “but we did have a chance to see David yesterday and have a conversation with him. Other than that, we’re going to give it the priority that it deserves.”
He said it’s “not impossible” that Ortiz could play elsewhere, but “we’re eager to resolve something if it can be done.”
Lucchino also questioned whether commissioner Bud Selig would go through with his plan to retire after this season.
“He knows that some of us believe that the pressures for him to stay will be so great that he will have to accede to them,” Lucchino said.
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