Freddie Freeman’s return to Atlanta was always going to be emotional — but very few could have foreseen the whirlwind of drama it would whip up.
Following the Dodgers’ series against the Braves last weekend, Freeman fired his agent, Excel Sports Management’s Casey Close, who reportedly didn’t disclose Atlanta’s final offer to Freeman, per Fox Sports’ Doug Gottlieb.
Gottlieb explains, “Freeman was unaware of how willing to play ball the Atlanta Braves were … 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.’”
It’s the latest twist in a saga stretching back to last season that saw Freeman shockingly leave Atlanta when all indications pointed toward him being a lifelong Brave.
Here’s how we got here, per ESPN’s Buster Olney:
- With his contract expiring, the Braves initially offered Freeman a five-year, $125M extension during the 2021 season, bumping it up to five years, $140M after the lockout.
- Freeman and Close had insisted on a sixth year, so Close presented an ultimatum: six years/$175M or five years/$165M.
- Atlanta rejected both offers, instead trading for Oakland’s Matt Olson and subsequently signing him to an eight-year, $168M contract — surpassing Freeman for the largest deal in team history.
- Shortly after, Freeman signed a six-year, $165M pact with the Dodgers.
Now, we know that there was allegedly another deal on the table — which Freeman may have accepted had Close not interfered.
Close, of course, had a profit incentive to get Freeman a more lucrative deal — something the agent vehemently denies.
In a statement to FOS’ A.J. Perez, Close said, “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.”
Freeman is having a typically productive, if less powerful, season. He has a .306 average — but his .486 slugging percentage is his lowest since 2015. The Dodgers (46-28) have the best record in the National League.
Olson, meanwhile, is batting .253 on .481 slugging, but leads the majors in doubles, and the red-hot Braves (44-32) now trail the Mets (47-29) by only three games in the NL East.