In response to a report that he withheld the Braves’ final offer to star first baseman Freddie Freeman during free agency negotiations, Excel Sports Management’s Casey Close issued a statement to ESPN’s Jeff Passan accusing the Braves for crafting what he deemed a “false narrative.”
“I will not stand by as the circumstances surrounding Freddie Freeman’s departure from Atlanta are mischaracterized,” Close wrote. “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.”
The statement comes one day after Close denied the initial report to Sports Illustrated‘s Tom Verducci, calling the tweet from Fox Sports radio host Doug Gottlieb reckless and saying he and his team were “evaluating all legal options in this matter.”
In a tweet Wednesday, Gottlieb said that Close “never told Freddie Freeman about the Braves [sic] final offer, that is why Freeman fired him. He found out in Atlanta this weekend. It isn’t that rare to have happen in MLB, but it happened – Close knew Freddie would have taken the ATL deal.”
After Close released his statement on Thursday, Derek Jeter, who was represented by Close during his MLB career, also put out a statement defending the veteran agent’s reputation.
“I have known Casey since I was 18. Over the last 30 years, we have had our share of differences of opinion, but to this day, he remains a trusted advisor and friend,” Jeter wrote. “He is a man who values morals, integrity and above all else honesty and transparency.”
Freeman’s relationship with Close appears to be at least on pause. In response to an ESPN report that Freeman fired Close, Freeman released a statement Tuesday that stopped short of acknowledging he ended that relationship.
“Last weekend in Atlanta was a very emotional time for me and my family,” Freeman said in his statement. “I am working through some issues with my longtime agents at Excel. My representation remains a fluid situation and I will update if needed.”
When asked by reporters about Gottlieb’s report before Wednesday’s game, Freeman declined to comment.
“I have a 30-year reputation in this business for integrity and honesty, and I have always operated with the utmost character,” Close concluded in his statement. “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.”
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