Thursday, August 11, 2022

Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman set to change agents after ‘very emotional’ return to face Braves

Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman will no longer be represented by Excel Sports Management, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney. Freeman, now listed internally as his own agent, has reportedly told friends that he’s angry with how his free agency played out last winter, when he left Atlanta for the West Coast after the Braves acquired Matt Olson in a trade with the Oakland Athletics

Freeman had previously spent his entire career with the Braves, with whom he won a World Series last fall. He issued the following statement to MLB.com’s Mark Bowman:

Last weekend in Atlanta was a very emotional time for me and my family. I am working through some issues with my longtime agents at Excel. My representation remains a fluid situation and I will update if needed.

Freeman’s annoyance with his representation may stem from the seeming ultimatum that Excel presented to the Braves days before the Olson trade was completed. Here’s the backstory on that, courtesy again of Bowman:

As the days, weeks and months of the offseason passed, Freeman just assumed he’d eventually end up with the Braves. He maintained this thought until the evening of March 12. This is the night when Close contacted Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos, gave him two requests that far exceeded Freeman’s expectations and said the Braves had an hour to respond.

Freeman’s agents contend this wasn’t an ultimatum. But Freeman certainly felt like it was. When he received an update that evening, he walked back into his son’s birthday party and felt like he was in shock as he told his dad and wife that he didn’t think he was a Brave anymore.

Freeman later signed a six-year contract with the Dodgers worth $162 million. He’s had no trouble adapting to his new environment on the field, as he entered Tuesday hitting .304/.388/.488 (141 OPS+) with eight home runs and 26 other extra-base hits.

Off the field, however, the past week has been an emotional one for Freeman. He made his return to Truist Park last Friday for the first time since signing with the Dodgers, and he had to leave his re-introductory press conference after breaking down. He’d return and said the following: “I was doing pretty good about an hour ago. I still love the Braves organization with all my heart. That will never change.”

In an unusual twist, Dodgers teammate Clayton Kershaw made a comment that could be read as implying Freeman remained too attached to his old organization: “He’s obviously been a big contributor for our team. And I hope we’re not second fiddle. It’s a pretty special team over here, too. I think whenever he gets comfortable over here, he’ll really enjoy it.” (Kershaw declined to elaborate, according to The Athletic.)

The Braves, for their part, signed Olson to an eight-year extension worth $168 million on March 15. Freeman signed his pact with the Dodgers on March 18.

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