Last fall, the Atlanta Braves capped off the 2021 Major League Baseball season with a World Series Championship. At the helm of that team was Freddie Freeman, the glue for that team for the 12 seasons before hitting the free-agent market.
Freeman grew to be a household name and Braves fan favorite while in Atlanta. He was one of the most underrated first basemen in the league for quite some time, finally garnering some attention when he won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in 2020.
But lately, he has gotten even more attention as he returned to the Braves ballpark for the first time since leaving the team. Freeman signed a six-year, $162 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers this offseason, where he now patrols first base for the stacked Dodgers lineup.
The return was an emotional one. The fanbase welcomed him back with open arms, cheering for him like he was still a part of the home team. Freeman was honored before the game, getting his World Series ring, and there was plenty of content to show for about his return and how hard it was for him.
Here’s a video from the ceremony showing Freeman’s emotional return.
Freddie Freeman receives his World Series ring before his first game back in Atlanta 💍❤️ @brwalkoff
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 24, 2022
Freeman struggled to get through pre-game interviews with the media, struggled through the ceremony shown above, and struggled through the whole series, emotionally. Clearly, he still wanted to be a part of the Atlanta Braves organization.
Freddie Freeman’s emotional return uncovers a bigger story.
Some say a picture is worth a thousand words. Here’s a photo tweeted out of the whole Dodgers team up on the fence during the game. Not to read into it too much, but Freeman is behind the team, sitting down and taking it all in. The look on his face says it all.
This picture tells 1000 stories pic.twitter.com/OaLrSjyF7O
— WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS Barstool Atlanta (@Barstool_ATL) June 27, 2022
While his contract is massive and was a great payday, the guy clearly still wants to be with the Braves. This return sparked a deeper look into his contract negotiations. The Braves reportedly made a counteroffer to Freeman’s agent, Casey Close, who never disclosed it to Freeman, opting to broker the deal with the Dodgers for more money.
According to a report from ESPN, the Braves’ initial offer to Freeman was a five-year, $135 million, which was well below Close’s proposal to the Braves. They countered with a five-year, $140 million offer that Freeman would have reportedly accepted.
Though, he was not made aware of this as Close told the Braves this was too low and that his client would be finding a deal elsewhere. This led to the Braves quickly acting to replace Freeman in a bit of a panic move, trading for Matt Olson, who then got an eight-year, $168 million extension upon arrival.
Close brokered the deal with the Dodgers, and the rest is history. Well, until now. Freeman’s return shed some light on the situation for him as he learned about what Close had done. Following the news coming out to Freeman, he opted to fire Casey Close.
Freeman has to be furious. While the tweet linked in the last paragraph mentions that this “happens all the time” in the big leagues, this one stings. As someone who is not a Braves or Dodgers fan, it’s hard to watch this unfold for Freeman.
To no fault of his own, he’s stuck in Los Angeles, even though he would clearly rather be with the Braves organization. The behind-the-scenes story leaked out, and now Freeman has to sort out his representation after Close brokered his current contract, one he probably wishes he did not sign.
Now I know that some people would rather see him get over it since he’s making $168 million to play baseball, but it’s not the money. Close negotiated the deal for Freeman based on the money when in reality, he would have taken the Braves’ offer of $140 million to stay there.
The contract has been signed, and it’s too late to reverse it now, but after an emotional return to Atlanta, this untold story and untold offer have emerged. It sucks to see Freeman go through such an emotional return like that, especially with these details emerging.
Freddie Freeman is a class-act player who was the heart of the Braves for the last decade. It sucks to find out that he got screwed in the negotiation process by his agent withholding information.