Agent blasts Braves' 'false narrative,' threatens litigation over Freeman report
Doug Gottlieb of Fox Sports tweeted earlier Wednesday that Freeman fired Close for withholding the Braves' final offer to the slugger. He also said Close hid the information because he knew Freeman would've accepted the team's deal. Additionally, Gottlieb said the former MVP didn't find out about the offer until this past weekend in Atlanta.
"There is no truth whatsoever to what Doug Gottlieb recklessly tweeted, and I would testify to that under oath," Close said in a statement to Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci. "We are currently evaluating all legal options in this matter."
Later on Thursday, Close also issued a statement obtained by ESPN's Jeff Passan, accusing the Braves of creating a "false narrative."
"I will not stand by as the circumstances surrounding Freddie Freeman's departure from Atlanta are mischaracterized. 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."
Earlier this week after an emotional return to Atlanta in which Freeman cried multiple times, it was rumored that the five-time All-Star would be making a change in representation. Freeman stated, "I am working through some issues with my longtime agents at Excel. My representation remains a fluid situation, and I will update if needed."
It's unclear if Close and Freeman have officially parted ways. Freeman has also declined to comment on whether or not Close withheld information.
During the offseason, it was reported that the Braves offered Freeman a five-year deal. Close reportedly countered, asking for more and assigning a one-hour time limit for Atlanta to accept or decline. The Braves wound up trading for first baseman Matt Olson while Freeman signed a six-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.