Ex-agent: Braves fostering ‘false narrative’ about Freeman

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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LOS ANGELES — The former agent of Los Angeles Dodgers star Freddie Freeman says the Braves are presenting a “false narrative” about the first baseman’s parting with Atlanta in March.

“I will not stand by as the circumstances surrounding Freddie Freeman’s departure from Atlanta are mischaracterized,” agent Casey Close of Excel Sports Management said Thursday in a statement.

Freeman was in tears and at times could barely speak when talking to reporters in Atlanta last week, his first trip back to the city where he had played his entire career before leaving for the West Coast. He was warmly welcomed by Braves fans. He helped the team win the World Series last season and was presented his ring by Braves manager Brian Snitker.

Freeman’s return came at the same time that he apparently fired Excel as his management team. Asked about that, he described the relationship as “fluid.”

The Braves and Freeman had been negotiating a new contract after the 2021 season ended. They didn’t reach an agreement, and Freeman filed for free agency but didn’t sign before baseball entered a labor lockout Dec. 1 that prompted a roster freeze.

In mid-March, the Braves acquired All-Star first baseman Matt Olson in a trade with Oakland. Three days later, Freeman signed a $162 million, six-year deal with the Dodgers.

Close said the Braves have been perpetuating a story about the contract negotiations that is false.

“Part of that false narrative is the suggestion that I did not communicate a contract offer to the Freemans,” Close said in the statement. “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.”

Freeman expressed no regrets last week about signing with the Dodgers, although his outpouring of emotions caught the attention of his new teammates.

“That’s something that Freddie’s got to deal with, but certainly there’s more talk of it in our clubhouse,” manager Dave Roberts said Thursday.

The Dodgers returned from a nine-game trip early Thursday and didn’t have batting practice before hosting the San Diego Padres. Freeman was not available to speak to reporters.

Freeman declined Wednesday to comment on radio host Doug Gottlieb’s tweet reporting Freeman fired Close because he didn’t tell him about the Braves’ final contract offer in March.

“Doug 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,” Close said in a statement Wednesday.

Close noted Thursday that his 30-year career in baseball and his reputation for integrity and honesty.

“I have always operated with the utmost character,” he said. “We always put the player’s goals and best interests first and will always continue to do so.”

Brian Cashman signs 4-year contract to remain Yankees GM

Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO — Brian Cashman has signed a four-year contract to remain the New York Yankees Senior Vice President and General Manager. The announcement was made during the first day of baseball’s Winter Meetings.

Cashman, New York’s GM since 1998, had been working on a handshake agreement since early November, when his five-year contract expired.

The Yankees were swept by four games in the AL Championship Series and haven’t reached the World Series since winning in 2009. It is the franchise’s longest title drought since an 18-year gap between 1978-96.

Cashman’s main goal during the offseason is trying to re-sign AL MVP Aaron Judge.

Judge hit an American League-record 62 homers this season with a .311 batting average and 131 RBIs. He turned down the Yankees’ offer on the eve of opening day of a seven-year contract that would have paid $213.5 million from 2023-29.

While Judge remains on the market, Cashman was able to re-sign Anthony Rizzo on Nov. 15 to a two-year contract worth $40 million after turning down a $16 million player option.

Cashman has been the Yankees general manager since 1998. He has been with the organization since 1986, when he was a 19-year old intern in the scouting department. In his 25 seasons as GM, the Yankees have reached the postseason 21 times, including four World Series championships and six American League titles.