The saga of Freddie Freeman’s free agency continues.
News broke initially that Freeman fired his agent Case Close after returning to Atlanta for the first time as a Dodger.
Then, Doug Gottlieb reported that the motivation behind the firing stemmed from Close withholding an offer from the Braves, leading Freeman to land in LA. Gottlieb alleged that Freeman learned of the offer in Atlanta, which explained the timing of the separation.
Derek Jeter then came to Close’s defense, saying that “He is a man who values morals, integrity and above all else honesty and transparency.”
In June, Close issued several statements defending his actions and saying he communicated all of the Braves offers to the Freemans. He also signaled his intentions to pursue potential legal action against Gottlieb, saying “There is no truth whatsoever to what Doug Gottlieb tweeted, and I would testify to that under oath.”
Close followed up on the threat.
On Thursday, reports broke that he sued Gottlieb for libel, with Close saying in the filing that he had “received death threats from people believed to be Atlanta Braves fans.”
The suit also contained some newly publicized contract offers from the Braves. Bill Shaikin posted that the offers reached as high as 5 years and $135 million:
That offer represents one less year, a lower overall guarantee and essentially the same average annual value as the 6 years and $163 million he eventually agreed to with LA.
The suit also details that Close proposed several offers to the Braves, both of which were rejected:
“Their final discussions on a potential deal took place March 12, according to the complaint, when Close proposed two potential offers — previously reported as six years for $175 million or five years for $165 million — to the Braves. The team, the complaint said, rejected both, and after Close sought an offer to bring to Freeman and was told the Braves would not give one, Close ‘immediately communicated the final conversation to Freeman.'”
Assuming these details are accurate, the free agency process for Freeman makes much more sense. The Braves were apparently unwilling to go to a 6th year or increase the average annual value past $27 million a year.
Close’s offers were significantly higher than what he wound up receiving, but clearly the market was there for him to get 6 years and a guarantee of over $160 million, compared to the 5/$135 the Braves proposed.
That said, it’s odd that Freeman fired Close at all, and the timing of it was inarguably suspicious. While we can only speculate, it’s possible that Freeman was told something different by the Braves while visiting Atlanta, or maybe he simply thought Close’s offers were too high and jeopardized his ability to return to the team.
Either way, Close alleges that Gottlieb’s report has cost him and Excel Sports tens of millions of dollars.
For Freeman’s part, he’s had 11 hits in his last 13 at bats and on Wednesday helped lead the Dodgers to a remarkable come from behind 7-6 win over the Cardinals after trailing 6-0.
Follow Ian Miller on Twitter: @ianmSC
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