Freddie Freeman's ex-agent Casey Close threatened legal action after Fox Sports radio host Doug Gottlieb accused him of failing in his duties representing the now-Los Angeles Dodgers slugger.
Now it appears that he has followed through. According to court documents obtained by ESPN's Jeff Passan on Thursday, Close has filed a libel suit against Gottlieb, alleging that he defamed him and his agency Excel Sports in a June tweet.
Gottlieb, a radio host who covers college basketball and does not report on baseball, tweeted on June 29 that Close declined to tell Freeman about an offer from the Braves before Freeman eventually left the franchise for the Dodgers via free agency.
Casey Close never told Freddie Freeman about the Braves 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
— Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) June 29, 2022
Freeman has been visibly upset about his departure from the team he won a World Series and MVP with. He was in tears prior to his first game in Atlanta as a visiting player in June. Four days later, he reportedly fired Close. ESPN's Buster Olney reported that Freeman was "angry with how his free-agent negotiations played out."
Gottlieb tweeted his claim in the aftermath of Close's dismissal, prompting Close to issue a statement accusing him of publishing a "wholly inaccurate characterization of our negotiations."
"Doug Gottlieb tweeted a wholly inaccurate characterization of our negotiations with the Atlanta Braves on behalf of Freddie Freeman," Close's June 29 statement reads. "We are immediately evaluating all legal options to address the reckless publication of inaccurate information."
The next day, Close issued a statement through Excel Sports accusing the Braves of fomenting a "false narrative" around Freeman's departure from Atlanta.
A statement on behalf of Casey Close: pic.twitter.com/HMRH6EhQOk
— excel sports (@excelsm) June 30, 2022
Freeman has remained mostly silent about the ordeal and declined to comment on Gottlieb's tweet the day it was published.
The Braves drafted Freeman in the first round of the 2007 MLB draft, and he played in Atlanta for 12 seasons after his 2010 MLB debut. He became the face of the franchise during his tenure, earning five All-Star bids and the 2020 NL MVP award. He helped lead the Braves to their first World Series victory since 1995 in 2021.
Freeman played last season on an expiring contract and entered the offseason as a free agent. Per Olney, the Braves offered Freeman $135 million over five years shortly after the end of the offseason lockout. Close responded with a "significantly higher" counteroffer, leading Atlanta to bump up its offer up to $140 million, according to the report.
Olney reported that a deadline set by Excel passed before the Braves moved on by trading for Oakland A's first baseman Matt Olson and signing him to an eight-year, $168 million extension. Freeman eventually signed a six-year, $162 million deal with the Dodgers that includes $57 million in deferred salary.