Larry Lucchino Denies Any Trade Talks Regarding Jacoby Ellsbury, Says ‘He’s Our Center Fielder’

Jacoby Ellsbury holds significant trade value.

With Ellsbury just a year away from free agency and center field prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. on the rise, there has been speculation that the Red Sox might shop Ellsbury — the 2011 American League MVP runner up – this offseason, perhaps in exchange for a pitcher.

Speaking on WEEI on Thursday, Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino denied any rumors that trade talks about Ellsbury were ongoing.

“He’s our center fielder, and there have been no discussions with regard to him that I’m aware of,” Lucchino said. “You don’t know whether someone is going to come to you and make you some kind of proposal but our plan is to have Jacoby Ellsbury as our center fielder this year going forward.”

Lucchino also touched on the club’s change in strategy regarding pursuing free agents. Lengthy and costly free-agent contracts for players like Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford had left the Red Sox financially strapped, but a midseason trade with the Dodgers freed Boston of both deals. Lucchino now says the days of handing out monster deals — big money, bigger years — are all but over in Boston.

“We’re not going to get into seven, eight-year deals as we’ve done before,” Lucchino said. “What we have ruled out is the kind of long-term, gigantic commitment to players if at all possible. We are more concerned about years than we are dollars.”

Whether it affects the team’s ability to re-sign Ellsbury down the road is yet to be determined. But as far as Lucchino is concerned, it appears that Ellsbury — who hit .274 with four home runs and 26 RBIs this season — will start 2013 in Boston’s outfield.