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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Freddie Freeman changing agents over how Braves-Dodgers free agency played out, per report

Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman will no longer be represented by Excel Sports Management, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney. Freeman, now listed internally as his own agent, has reportedly told friends that he’s angry with how his free agency played out last winter, when he left Atlanta for the West Coast after the Braves acquired Matt Olson in a trade with the Oakland Athletics.

He had previously spent his entire career with the Braves, with whom he won a World Series last fall.

Freeman’s annoyance with his now-former agency may stem from the seeming ultimatum that Excel presented to the Braves days before the Olson trade was completed. Here’s the backstory on that, courtesy of MLB.com’s Mark Bowman:

As the days, weeks and months of the offseason passed, Freeman just assumed he’d eventually end up with the Braves. He maintained this thought until the evening of March 12. This is the night when Close contacted Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos, gave him two requests that far exceeded Freeman’s expectations and said the Braves had an hour to respond.

Freeman’s agents contend this wasn’t an ultimatum. But Freeman certainly felt like it was. When he received an update that evening, he walked back into his son’s birthday party and felt like he was in shock as he told his dad and wife that he didn’t think he was a Brave anymore.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 28, 2022 at 04:04 PM | 44 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: freddie freeman

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   1. The Duke Posted: June 28, 2022 at 04:12 PM (#6084324)
I don't even understand this

Freddie Freeman’s statement:

"Last weekend in Atlanta was a very emotional time for me and my family. I am working through some issues with my longtime agents at Excel. My representation remains a fluid situation and I will update if needed."

That's one of the craziest things I've ever heard.
   2. Mike A Posted: June 28, 2022 at 04:30 PM (#6084329)
Yeah, Freddie's trip back triggered the feels. He didn't want to leave, I don't think he was happy with how it was handled. Reminds me of Jeff Blauser/Scott Boras way back when.

Freddie's agent giving the Braves a one-hour deadline was just inane.
   3. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: June 28, 2022 at 04:36 PM (#6084332)
A lot of times the agent doesn't have the player's best interests in mind. This appears to be one of those times.
   4. Howie Menckel Posted: June 28, 2022 at 05:13 PM (#6084337)

a few possible interpretations here:

“It was very cool (to see Freeman’s reception Friday night),” Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw told The AJC. “He’s obviously been a big contributor for our team. And I hope we’re not second fiddle. It’s a pretty special team over here, too. I think whenever he gets comfortable over here, he’ll really enjoy it.
   5. Tin Angel Posted: June 28, 2022 at 05:17 PM (#6084338)
From the "highlights" I heard on an ESPN podcast he sounded like an emotional wreck all weekend. He was still breaking down and crying on the third day there.
   6. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: June 28, 2022 at 06:44 PM (#6084351)
I understand that he wanted to stay, but he really needed to convey this to his agent. It's not hard to tell the agent, hey I really like it here, bring me any offer they make and we'll go from there; but I'm staying in Atlanta.

Last time I checked, the agent works for the player. The player needs to make it clear to the agent what the ultimate goal is.
   7. Walt Davis Posted: June 28, 2022 at 06:46 PM (#6084352)
This is why your spouse is not cool with you hanging out with your exes, even if you're "just friends now."
   8. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: June 28, 2022 at 06:54 PM (#6084355)
When Jose Ramirez signed with Cleveland, we all thought, whoa, that's a bargain.

Obviously Jose likes it in Cleveland and instructed his agents to work out a deal. He took less money then he would've received then if he'd become an FA because Jose is awesome at baseball and would've been paid accordingly.
   9. Walt Davis Posted: June 28, 2022 at 06:59 PM (#6084356)
The Kershaw quote is interesting, implying that Freeman is not yet comfy in LA.

Hopefully it's no more than a fit of standard buyer's remorse. Or just like when you take a new job and a few times a day you say "the way we(!) did this where I used to work..." for the first couple of months and your new co-workers understandably aren't sure where your attachment lies.

Agree, it sounds like Freeman's reps really messed up here. Beyond the brinksmanship, if you can't get a team from 5/$135 to 6/$162 for a franchise icon (or at least 6/$155 with your client willing to forego $7M to stay where he wants or 5/$135 plus an option with, say, a $12 M buyout) then you're just not a good agent. Apparently the deal with LA is heavily deferred too (although I'm not sure we know the Braves offer wasn't). Of course none of us were in the room with Freeman and his agent or his agent and the Braves.

It is possible the Braves are adamant about not going past age 36. The Dodgers gave him age 37. The Braves covered Olson through age 35 with an option on age 36.
   10. Walt Davis Posted: June 28, 2022 at 07:14 PM (#6084357)
Discussing Goldschmidt in the chatter ... Freeman and Goldschmiidt are pretty much the same player with Freeman two years younger:

FF 6985 PA, 296/384/508, 138 OPS+, 279 HR, 46 WAR, +14 Rfield, 4.2 WAR/650
PG 6617 PA, 296/391/527, 144 OPS+, 299 HR, 55 WAR, +52 Rfield, 5.4 WAR/650

So why is the WAR gap so big? Fine, 4 wins of it is defense. But I would have thought the small offensive difference would have been neutralized by park effects but the oWAR gap is a full 5 wins. I know Atlanta is a good hitters park but surely not as good as AZ. Given the age difference, Freeman might well catch up in career WAR (e.g. Freeman is 1 WAR and counting ahead through age 32) but he's unlikely to ever catch up in WAA.
   11. The Yankee Clapper Posted: June 28, 2022 at 07:20 PM (#6084360)
No Waffle Houses in Southern California?
   12. Booey Posted: June 28, 2022 at 08:56 PM (#6084374)
#10 - And they're both pretty much the same player as Eddie Murray in his prime (we'll see if they have his longevity, though).
   13. Balkroth Posted: June 28, 2022 at 11:11 PM (#6084415)
So why is the WAR gap so big? Fine, 4 wins of it is defense. But I would have thought the small offensive difference would have been neutralized by park effects but the oWAR gap is a full 5 wins. I know Atlanta is a good hitters park but surely not as good as AZ. Given the age difference, Freeman might well catch up in career WAR (e.g. Freeman is 1 WAR and counting ahead through age 32) but he's unlikely to ever catch up in WAA.


Goldschmidt has a good lead in Rbaser , 24 to 1 . That does go into oWAR as well.
   14. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: June 29, 2022 at 08:07 AM (#6084429)
1) Obviously, not a great agent.

2) Freeman's got to own this. He made about $131 million through age 31 in his Atlanta career. He was reportedly going to make another $125-$150m in guaranteed money, no matter where he signed after 2021. At what point is the marginal value of the money itself above, say, $250m in guaranteed money just so little to the life of your family for generations to come that you just say, "Keep me in Atlanta."

Those of us who will never see that kind of money in our life always wonder what the actual difference in your life is above several hundred million dollars, and yet time after time, athletes appear to take that last dollar. I presume there is a "scoreboard" element to it most of the time, but it sure doesn't look like that in this case.

3) As for the money, though: How much more in taxes is he going to pay in CA than in GA? How much more is the cost of living? Then there is the whole deferred money part. Is Freeman even putting very much more money in his pocket?
   15. Jose is Absurdly Correct but not Helpful Posted: June 29, 2022 at 08:13 AM (#6084430)
Those of us who will never see that kind of money in our life always wonder what the actual difference in your life is above several hundred million dollars, and yet time after time, athletes appear to take that last dollar. I presume there is a "scoreboard" element to it most of the time, but it sure doesn't look like that in this case.


I think the "scoreboard element" is a big part of it in these situations. I don't think these guys really care about 150 or 175 but they do care about being the highest paid first baseman or whatever. I do think every free agent to be should read this though. It seems to me quite a few people would be happier staying in their current situation for a bit less money in the long run. Not all of them obviously and I don't begrudge anyone getting what they can but I think a lot of these guys get hung up on chasing the money and in the long run they would be happier staying where they are. One side benefit of that is I think there are both intangible and tangible benefits of being a "one team guy." Not only are you beloved by a fan base but there are ways to monetize that after your career.

The above of course is only limited to the elite FAs. The guy who goes year to year on his contract is probably best served chasing the money.
   16. Lassus Posted: June 29, 2022 at 08:23 AM (#6084431)
I would like to be a bigger person and be sympathetic.

However, I am instead pointing and laughing.
   17. Howie Menckel Posted: June 29, 2022 at 08:49 AM (#6084434)
I don't think these guys really care about 150 or 175 but they do care about being the highest paid first baseman or whatever.

yes, I have mentioned this before.

most athletes who get to the top do so by being hyper-competitive.
on paper, it makes sense that they would - upon reaching an incredible level of wealth - be able to "turn off that spigot" when it comes to salary.

I also used to wish that John McEnroe could just be a great tennis player and not such an ####### on the court, too. but the attributes intersect, and the Freeman experience is often the result. they're very often just not capable of separating their instincts.

it's not pretty, but it is common.
   18. Tin Angel Posted: June 29, 2022 at 08:58 AM (#6084435)
3) As for the money, though: How much more in taxes is he going to pay in CA than in GA? How much more is the cost of living? Then there is the whole deferred money part. Is Freeman even putting very much more money in his pocket?


They talked about this when he signed- after CA state income tax he will actually be making less than if he had signed for what Atlanta supposedly offered.
   19. dejarouehg Posted: June 29, 2022 at 09:04 AM (#6084437)
There is also the implied pressure from the MLBPA to continually push for more and more. I believe this was a big part of Tom Glavine signing with the Mets.

Were it not for Steve Cohen, I could see Pete Alonso taking the Freeman path. And, on some levels, Aaron Judge is pursuing "the last dollar."

FWIW, Casey Close seemed to do OK by Jeter.
   20. Jeff Francoeur's OPS Posted: June 29, 2022 at 09:52 AM (#6084442)
The MLBPA listed the present value of the Dodgers contract as worth ~$148.2MM once the $57MM deferral is accounted for. That doesn't even account for the CA income tax rate which is assuredly higher than GA. His agents definitely jammed him up. I think the Braves final offer was a straight 5/$145MM and Chipper Jones opined that the they would have went to 5/$150.

On top of that, Freeman had to buy a third home in Studio City since his oceanfront home in Corona del Mar was too far for a daily commute to Chavez Ravine.

As a Braves fan, I just find it baffling how Freeman and the Braves couldn't come together after fifteen years together. It's clear Freeman didn't want to leave, and how the two sides couldn't come together will continue to boggle the mind.

In the end, Freeman will retire with a quarter billion in the bank, at least. He'll be alright.
   21. Howie Menckel Posted: June 29, 2022 at 09:54 AM (#6084443)
Ian O'Connor, who wrote a book on Jeter, publicly counseled the Yankees to offer Jeter a final five-year, $90 million contract. Impudent GM Brian Cashman ignored the advice - and Jeter signed for three years, $51 million in 2010.
   22. Jose is Absurdly Correct but not Helpful Posted: June 29, 2022 at 10:02 AM (#6084446)
I think without the lockout the Braves and Freeman get a deal done. I think the long pause without contact allowed any negativity to fester with Freeman and then it was try to rush through a three month off-season in 10 days and not surprisingly that meant pragmatism took over for everyone involved.
   23. Jeff Francoeur's OPS Posted: June 29, 2022 at 10:30 AM (#6084457)
@22, I also think the pandemic season screwed things up. Ownership held back on big contracts in the 2020 offseason, which would have been the prime time to extend Freeman.
   24. Nasty Nate Posted: June 29, 2022 at 10:42 AM (#6084459)
As a Braves fan, I just find it baffling how Freeman and the Braves couldn't come together after fifteen years together. It's clear Freeman didn't want to leave, and how the two sides couldn't come together will continue to boggle the mind.
In Freeman's mind, the mystery is solved: the agents bungled it.
   25. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: June 29, 2022 at 11:41 AM (#6084474)
There is also the implied pressure from the MLBPA to continually push for more and more.

Yeah, most fans ignore this.

Players are constantly told by other players and agents that "you're setting the market for the next big first basemen" and "if you don't get all you deserve, then you're taking away from him."

Freddie's comments make it clear that the negotiations went down differently than his agents portrayed it. The one hour time limit on the final offer and all.

I'm a little surprised that more veterans don't take a more hands-on role in the negotiations. Freddie doesn't need to do the talking, but you'd think they'd like to hear what is going down between the agent and the team. But its probably over the phone a lot so its impossible to constantly dial in a player.
   26. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: June 29, 2022 at 11:42 AM (#6084475)
Also, it seems like Matt Olson is doing fine in Atlanta, but he is obviously not as good as Freeman, and I can't imagine he will ever be anything near as popular as Freeman. Freeman strikes me as one of the few guys in baseball who - because of his performance, his persona, and his tenure with the franchise - can actually sell tickets. Even his name, "Freddie Freeman", is out of a work of fiction.

And somebody above mentioned the "one franchise" thing as a money-maker after the career is over. David Ortiz (who technically was not a one-franchise guy, but you know what I'm saying...) remains at the dead center of Red Sox marketing and communications. It almost certainly helped him get elected to the HOF in his first year. He probably could have made more in the short run a few different times during his career, but man - did Ortiz play the long game correctly.

I think this is where Freeman was heading, and it sounds like he recognizes he messed up. But as somebody else noted above, he'll have a quarter-billion dollars before age 40 playing baseball for a living. Big picture? It is all good.
   27. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 29, 2022 at 11:58 AM (#6084480)

Those of us who will never see that kind of money in our life always wonder what the actual difference in your life is above several hundred million dollars, and yet time after time, athletes appear to take that last dollar. I presume there is a "scoreboard" element to it most of the time, but it sure doesn't look like that in this case.


I also think there's the fact that in 5 years or so Freeman won't be playing baseball anywhere. He won't be in Atlanta no matter what, but he'll still have the extra $30M. $30M is a lot for anyone, unless you're an actual billionaire.
   28. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: June 29, 2022 at 12:31 PM (#6084483)
I think without the lockout the Braves and Freeman get a deal done. I think the long pause without contact allowed any negativity to fester with Freeman and then it was try to rush through a three month off-season in 10 days and not surprisingly that meant pragmatism took over for everyone involved.


Did the lockout really have to mean no negotiations at all? I would think that they would try to at least talk about a deal in principle, with the assumption that everything is off if the season is lost.

I'm sure there were rules against this kind of thing. But like tampering in the NBA, I can't see it getting strictly enforced.

Close was Ryan Howard's agent when he got his huge deal. He also represented Derek Lee. He is pretty good at getting top dollar for 1Bs!
   29. Lassus Posted: June 29, 2022 at 12:38 PM (#6084485)
Close was Ryan Howard's agent when he got his huge deal. He also represented Derek Lee. He is pretty good at getting top dollar for 1Bs

This makes Freeman seem kind of like a wishy-washy whiner unwilling to take responsibility for his own decisions.
   30. Jeff Francoeur's OPS Posted: June 29, 2022 at 01:05 PM (#6084493)
@28, Braves writer Dave O'Brien has stated that Anthopoulos has been very careful to run the front office by the book since the John Coppolella fiasco.
   31. The Yankee Clapper Posted: June 29, 2022 at 03:25 PM (#6084538)
I'm sure there were rules against this kind of thing. But like tampering in the NBA, I can't see it getting strictly enforced.
If caught, the penalty would likely have voided any deal and cost the Braves draft choices, so that doesn’t sound like the smart move, especially with the background noted in #30, which might support enhanced penalties.
   32. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: June 29, 2022 at 06:15 PM (#6084596)
Freeman’s agents contend this wasn’t an ultimatum. But Freeman certainly felt like it was.

I don't fully understand this part. If Freeman felt like it was an ultimatum, and he clearly didn't want it to be an ultimatum, then why didn't he step in? The agents work for him, not the other way around.

It sounds like the agents overplayed their hand, and they/Freeman felt like they couldn't back down at that point even though he was willing to take a lower offer to stay in Atlanta.

   33. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: June 29, 2022 at 06:17 PM (#6084598)

Anyway, from the agent's perspective I can understand not wanting to back down. Each agent represents more than one player, and for their negotiating tactics to be credible sometimes they need to stand behind their ultimatums and take the higher offer elsewhere.
   34. Mayor Blomberg Posted: June 29, 2022 at 06:21 PM (#6084600)
his oceanfront home in Corona del Mar was too far for a daily commute to Chavez Ravine

A good friend has been making the commute from Corona del Mar to USC for 20 years now, and he's far from alone on the 5.
   35. Mike A Posted: June 29, 2022 at 08:59 PM (#6084641)
The plot thickens. From Doug Gottlieb:

"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."

Don't know if this is true, but if so...yikes.
   36. Brian C Posted: June 29, 2022 at 09:14 PM (#6084646)
Anyway, from the agent's perspective I can understand not wanting to back down. Each agent represents more than one player, and for their negotiating tactics to be credible sometimes they need to stand behind their ultimatums and take the higher offer elsewhere.

Well, no. They represent more than one player, sure, but they're not representing them collectively - they still work for each individual player they represent on an individual basis. I don't need an agent that's going to throw me under the bus, just to make themselves more "credible" for the benefit of their other clients. They still represent ME and owe ME the representation I'm paying them for.
   37. The Yankee Clapper Posted: June 29, 2022 at 09:30 PM (#6084653)
Freeman was no neophyte; he was a 12-year MLB veteran when he became a free agent. If he wanted to remain in Atlanta, he certainly should have made that clear to his agent. Freeman seems to have MLB’s version of buyer’s remorse, but unless he sues the agent for violating his fiduciary duty, I’m a bit skeptical about him being kept in the dark.
   38. Jeff Francoeur's OPS Posted: June 29, 2022 at 09:44 PM (#6084659)
That claim hasn't been shared by any credible writer or outlet yet. Gottlieb is either embellishing or has a source nobody else has. I'm skeptical for now.
   39. Howie Menckel Posted: June 29, 2022 at 10:51 PM (#6084681)

both fwiw and ymmv, but


Close has put out a statement tonight calling the Gottlieb claim "totally inaccurate" and that he is "immediately evaluating all legal options to address the reckless publication of inaccurate information."

   40. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: June 30, 2022 at 03:31 PM (#6084814)

Well, no. They represent more than one player, sure, but they're not representing them collectively - they still work for each individual player they represent on an individual basis. I don't need an agent that's going to throw me under the bus, just to make themselves more "credible" for the benefit of their other clients. They still represent ME and owe ME the representation I'm paying them for.

Like I said, I can understand why the agent would do it. That doesn't mean it would be the right thing for their client.
   41. Zach Posted: June 30, 2022 at 07:41 PM (#6084906)
Sounds like bad representation to me. Aggressive negotiating tactics like a take it or leave it offer, especially with a 1 hour timeframe, need to have the client's buy in.
   42. Mike A Posted: June 30, 2022 at 07:59 PM (#6084911)
Close has also put out a statement saying the Braves have fostered a 'false narrative' about the negotiations. Pretty bold for an agent to go after an MLB team like that, we'll see if it pays off.

As a side, Dansby Swanson is also an Excel client and a FA at the end of the year. I feel like the Braves were probably going to move on from Swanson anyways, but this adds another wrinkle to the mix.
   43. depletion Posted: June 30, 2022 at 10:18 PM (#6084944)
#37 sounds right to me. Freeman's over 18 and wasn't on drugs or insane when he signed the contract.
   44. Brian C Posted: June 30, 2022 at 11:23 PM (#6084952)
Close has also put out a statement saying the Braves have fostered a 'false narrative' about the negotiations. Pretty bold for an agent to go after an MLB team like that, we'll see if it pays off.

Indeed. It is bold, but on the other hand, if the perception around the league is that Close screwed over his client, he probably has no choice but to engage in some pretty desperate damage control.
Freeman's over 18 and wasn't on drugs or insane when he signed the contract.

What does this have to do with anything? The whole discussion is whether Freeman's agent messed up his chance to re-sign with the team he wanted. Obviously if that happened, he would have signed a contract somewhere else after the damage was done.

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