The longtime agent for Los Angeles Dodgers star first baseman Freddie Freeman – formerly of the Atlanta Braves – released a statement blasting FOX Sports radio host Doug Gottlieb for comments Gottlieb made in which he claimed Freeman was not informed about Atlanta's final offer before he agreed to sign with L.A.
Working for the agency Excel Sports Management, Casey Close represented Freeman during his contract negotiations in March, when he eventually signed a six-year, $162 million deal with the Dodgers.
"I will not stand by as the circumstances surrounding Freddie Freeman’s departure from Atlanta are mischaracterized," Close said in the statement. "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."
Freeman, 32, had spent 12 seasons in Atlanta — his only other stop in MLB — from 2010 through 2021, where he became a fan favorite, a five-time All-Star, a three-time Silver Slugger, the 2020 NL MVP and a World Series champion in his final season there.
Excel also issued a statement in response to Gottlieb's claims.
"Doug Gottlieb tweeted a wholly inaccurate characterization of our negotiations with the Atlanta Braves on behalf of Freddie Freeman," Excel said in the statement. "We are immediately evaluating all legal options to address the reckless publication of inaccurate information."
On Wednesday, Gottlieb posted a message on his verified Twitter account in which he claimed that Close never alerted Freeman about Atlanta's final offer to Freeman.
Then, later in the day, while hosting an episode of his show, "The Doug Gottlieb Show," Gottlieb expanded on his claim.
"Freddie Freeman was unaware of how willing to play ball the Atlanta Braves were," Gottlieb said in the episode. "He found out over the weekend just how close Atlanta had come in their final offer, called up Casey Close and said, 'You didn’t tell me about this offer? You’re fired.' "
Last week, Freeman made his emotional return to Atlanta, where he was honored with a standing ovation and where he received his World Series ring. Freeman's Dodgers took the three-game, weekend series after winning games on Friday and Sunday.
On Friday, Freeman received his 2021 World Series championship ring when it was presented by Braves manager Brian Snitker in a pregame ceremony. Following a tribute video, Freeman made a slow walk to the field to join Snitker, who stood beside the World Series trophy in front of the mound.
Braves fans stood and cheered, some chanting "Freddie! Freddie!" Freeman answered by removing his cap and raising both arms to the fans. Freeman hugged Snitker twice, including once after putting on his ring. He grinned and gave the ring a kiss.
ESPN reported on Tuesday, citing unnamed sources, that Freeman had fired Excel. Freeman later acknowledged issue with his representation and issued a statement after the series in Atlanta to clarify the matter but did not confirm that Close or Excel had been fired.
"Last weekend in Atlanta was a very emotional time for me and my family," Freeman told MLB.com. "I am working through some issues with my longtime agents at Excel. My representation remains a fluid situation and I will update if needed."
Contributing: Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Freddie Freeman agent rips Doug Gottlieb, calls out Braves