Agent Casey Close accused the Atlanta Braves of perpetuating a “false narrative” regarding first baseman Freddie Freeman’s departure from the organization, saying in a statement to ESPN that he “won’t stand by” in the face of allegations about his role on Freeman’s entry into the Los Angeles Dodgers are moving on after the month-long fallout from the move.
Questions surrounding Close’s part in Freeman leaving Atlanta for the Dodgers came to a head on Wednesday when radio host Doug Gottlieb tweeted that Close accused Freeman of the Braves’ latest offer. In a previous statement, Close called this “a completely inaccurate characterization” and said Excel Sports “are evaluating all legal avenues to address the reckless release of inaccurate information”.
In a follow-up statement on Thursday, Close said: “I will not stand by to have the circumstances surrounding Freddie Freeman’s departure from Atlanta misrepresented. Since March, the Braves have promoted a narrative about the negotiations that, to put it plainly, is false. Part of that false narrative is the suggestion that I didn’t deliver a contract offer to the Freemans. To be clear, we communicated every offer that was made, as well as every communication Excel had with the Braves organization, throughout the process .I have a 30 year reputation in this business for integrity and honesty and I have always worked with the greatest character. At Excel, we are privileged to represent many exemplary athletes, some of whom have chosen to spend their entire careers with a franchise. We always put the player’s goals and interests first and will continue to do so.”
Negotiations for a contract extension between the Braves and Freeman, who were with the organization from the 2007 draft through their World Series win in 2021, began in earnest last season. After the parties failed to reach an agreement after the trade deadline, Freeman requested a free hand but did not sign before the December 1 lockout. The disconnect Close describes what happened after free agency reopened.
In a phone call, Close told ESPN that three previous offers — one at the start of the 2021 season and two in August, the last for five years and $135 million — were officially delivered via email. Close said the Braves never made a formal offer to Freeman, 32, during the off-season and the alleged final offer – for five years and $140 million – is on May 12. Close said he had the discussions about the possible Passed offer to Freeman but insisted it was not firm.
While the Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays had expressed interest in Freeman, discussions had focused on parameters of a potential deal, not offers. According to multiple media reports, Close gave the Braves an ultimatum: they had one hour to accept either a five-year, $165 million contract or a six-year, $175 million contract. Close told ESPN, “I never gave the Braves an ultimatum or set a deadline for negotiations.”
On March 14, two days after talks ended, the Braves traded a prospect-laden package to Oakland for All-Star first baseman Matt Olson, whom they soon signed to an eight-year, $168 million contract. On March 17, Freeman agreed to a six-year, $162 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Braves have not publicly addressed the Freeman discussions in detail and declined to comment when reached by ESPN.
The rousing ovation Freeman received upon his return to Atlanta over the weekend highlighted the complicated implications of free agency. While Freeman said “I have no regrets” ahead of the series about signing with the Dodgers, the reverberations are palpable. Dodgers star Clayton Kershaw told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “I hope we’re not second fiddle” to Freeman’s mind.
Freeman’s return to Atlanta over the weekend coincided with his firing from Excel Sports Management, whose baseball division is run by Close and employs Freeman’s longtime agent Victor Menocal, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney. When asked if he fired Excel, Freeman called his relationship with the agency “fluid.” Freeman would be the second high-profile client to say goodbye to Excel this winter. Trevor Story, who signed a six-year, $140 million free agent contract with the Boston Red Sox, then left Excel for Wasserman.
https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/34175160/freddie-freeman-agent-casey-close-says-atlanta-braves-perpetuating-false-narrative Freddie Freeman agent Casey Close says Atlanta Braves perpetuating ‘false narrative’