Saturday, August 20, 2022

Agent responds to Freddie Freeman drama, says Braves created ‘false narrative’ about negotiations

Agent responds to Freddie Freeman drama, says Braves created 'false narrative' about negotiations

Freddie Freeman is set to part ways with his agent earlier this week after an emotional return to Atlanta

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Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman is set to change agents, parting ways with Excel Sports Management reportedly over dissatisfaction with how his free agency played out last winter when he left Atlanta after the Braves acquired Matt Olson from the Oakland Athletics. Freeman ended up signing a $162 million deal with the Dodgers.

The timing of the decision coincided with Freeman’s first return trip to Atlanta last weekend, which included an emotional press conference. Predictably, rumors have swirled about what, precisely, caused the falling out between Freeman and agent Casey Close, to the extent that Close issued a statement on Thursday. Here’s what it read, in whole:

I will not stand by as the circumstances surrounding Freddie Freeman’s departure from Atlanta are mischaracterized. Since March, the Braves have fostered a narrative about the negotiations which, stated plainly, is false. Part of that false narrative is the suggestion that I did not communicate 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 entire process. I have a 30-year reputation in this business for integrity and honesty, and I have always operated with the utmost character. At Excel, we are privileged to represent many exemplary athletes, some of whom have chosen to spend their entire careers with one franchise. We always put the player’s goals and best interests first and will always continue to do so.

It should be noted that MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reported last week a version of events that would seem to validate Close’s comments about keeping Freeman in the loop up until the final days of negotiations while allowing room for tension to develop between Freeman and his longtime agent. Here’s what Bowman wrote:

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 landed with the Dodgers shortly after the Braves traded for Olson. He’s hitting .308/.391/.497 (145 OPS+) in his first season in L.A.

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