Freddie Freeman’s agent accuses Braves of fostering ‘false’ narrative

PHILADELPHIA — Casey Close of Excel Sports Management, who represented Freddie Freeman in negotiations with the Braves, released a statement Thursday in which he said 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,” Close said in a statement that was emailed to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “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.”

Reached in a text message, Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos declined to comment.

“We always put the player's goals and best interests first and will always continue to do so."

- Casey Close of Excel Sports Management, who represented Freddie Freeman in negotiations with the Braves

Doug Gottlieb, who hosts a show for Fox Sports Radio, reported Wednesday that Close never told Freeman about the Braves’ final offer. In a statement released hours after the tweet, Close refuted the report.

The Braves, however, never have appeared to start – or continue – the narrative that Close didn’t communicate an offer to Freeman. That information first appeared in Gottlieb’s tweet.

On Tuesday, ESPN reported Freeman fired Close and Excel. That same day, Freeman released a statement to that said his representation situation was “fluid.” As of then, he still was listed as being represented by Victor Menocal of Excel in the Major League Baseball Players Association’s system.

According to a person with knowledge of the situation, the negotiations between Freeman and the Braves reached a head March 12, when Close went to Anthopoulos with an ultimatum. He told the Braves that there were two different contracts the club could choose to offer Freeman. The Braves, the agency said, had one hour to decide which one they would offer.

Those two proposals: five years for $165 million or six years for $175 million. Excel told the Braves that it wanted to resolve Freeman’s free agency by the end of that day.

The Braves declined to offer Freeman either of those two structures. The sides, a person with knowledge of the situation said, agreed to go their separate ways.

Two days later, the Braves traded for Matt Olson. Freeman eventually signed a six-year, $162 million deal with the Dodgers. But that deal actually is valued at less money due to deferrals.

When the lockout ended, the Braves were waiting on Freeman before they began rounding out the rest of their roster as their club was set to report to spring training. They had offered him a five-year, $135 million deal in August. They upped it to five years and $140 million in March, according to multiple people with knowledge of the situation.

During Freeman’s introductory news conference, he said he was “blindsided” by the Braves trading for Olson. However, Excel and the Braves had agreed to move on after the team decided not to take either contract proposal.

Excel represents Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson. Swanson on Tuesday told the AJC that he will never leave Excel. He is a free agent at season’s end.