The Freddie Freeman-Casey Close saga just took another turn.
Freeman’s free agency process this past winter was always a bit confusing; it seemed like a natural fit for him to return to the Braves after winning the World Series and playing his entire career in Atlanta.
But shortly after the MLB lockout ended, instead of re-signing their franchise icon, the Braves moved on by trading for Matt Olson and signing him to an extension.
The former MVP almost immediately went to the Dodgers and the saga seemed over, but the recent Dodgers-Braves series in Atlanta managed to create even more drama.
First, news broke that Freeman had fired his longtime agent at Excel Sports, Casey Close.
Then, another report said Close had hid the Braves final offer from Freeman, leading to him signing with the Dodgers. Supposedly, Freeman didn’t learn of this news until the series in Atlanta, which led to the immediate firing.
Close issued a statement through his company strongly denying the allegations and saying that “the Braves have fostered a narrative about the negotiations which, stated plainly, is false.”
He continued, specifically denying the story that he did not communicate the final offer, “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.”
Now, Close has received a public display of support from another baseball legend: Derek Jeter.
In defending him, Jeter said “He is a man who values morals, integrity and above all else honesty and transparency:”
It always seemed odd that Freeman left, but baseball is first and foremost a business, and the Braves organization might simply have determined that they could make a better financial and competitive decision by going with Matt Olson as their longterm starter.
Conversely, it strains credulity to think that a high powered agent and former player himself would not report a contract offer to one of his most important clients, knowing how small the game is and that Freeman would inevitably speak to some of his former teammates and Braves executives.
We may never know the truth of what actually happened, unless Freeman publicly discusses the process and clears up the controversy.
That seems incredibly unlikely, so instead we’ll likely be forced to continue speculating about what really happened between the Braves, Close and Freeman. At least Close still has a significant supporter in his most famous client, Derek Jeter.