LOS ANGELES (AP) — The former agent of Los Angeles Dodgers star Freddie Freeman says the Braves are presenting a “false narrative” about the first baseman's parting with Atlanta in March.
“I will not stand by as the circumstances surrounding Freddie Freeman’s departure from Atlanta are mischaracterized,” agent Casey Close of Excel Sports Management said Thursday in a statement.
Freeman was in tears and at times could barely speak when talking to reporters in Atlanta last week, his first trip back to the city where he had played his entire career before leaving for the West Coast. He was warmly welcomed by Braves fans. He helped the team win the World Series last season and was presented his ring by Braves manager Brian Snitker.
Freeman's return came at the same time that he apparently fired Excel as his management team. Asked about that, he described the relationship as “fluid.”
The Braves and Freeman had been negotiating a new contract after the 2021 season ended. They didn't reach an agreement, and Freeman filed for free agency but didn't sign before baseball entered a labor lockout Dec. 1 that prompted a roster freeze.
In mid-March, the Braves acquired All-Star first baseman Matt Olson in a trade with Oakland. Three days later, Freeman signed a $162 million, six-year deal with the Dodgers.
Close said the Braves have been perpetuating a story about the contract negotiations that is false.
“Part of that false narrative is the suggestion that I did not communicate a contract offer to the Freemans,” Close said in the statement. “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.”
Freeman expressed no regrets last week about signing with the Dodgers, although his outpouring of emotions caught the attention of his new teammates.
“That's something that Freddie's got to deal with, but certainly there's more talk of it in our clubhouse,” manager Dave Roberts said Thursday.
The Dodgers returned from a nine-game trip early Thursday and didn't have batting practice before hosting the San Diego Padres. Freeman was not available to speak to reporters.
Freeman declined Wednesday to comment on radio host Doug Gottlieb’s tweet reporting Freeman fired Close because he didn’t tell him about the Braves’ final contract offer in March.
“Doug Gottlieb tweeted a wholly inaccurate characterization of our negotiations with the Atlanta Braves on behalf of Freddie Freeman. We are immediately evaluating all legal options to address the reckless publication of inaccurate information,” Close said in a statement Wednesday.
Close noted Thursday that his 30-year career in baseball and his reputation for integrity and honesty.
“I have always operated with the utmost character,” he said. “We always put the player’s goals and best interests first and will always continue to do so.”
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The Associated Press