Radio host admits he made false claim on Freeman talks
NEW YORK (AP) — A radio host admitted he falsely claimed agent Casey Close never informed first baseman Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves’ last contract offer.
Doug Gottlieb tweeted on June 29 that “Casey Close never told Freddie Freeman about the Braves final offer,” Close and Excel Sports Management sued Gottlieb in mid-July in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, alleging defamation by libel.
Gottlieb tweeted an apology Wednesday.
“Upon further vetting of my sources, a review of the lawsuit filed against me in this matter and a direct conversation with Casey himself, I have learned that the conduct I alleged did not occur and that there is no credible basis for stating that it did,” Gottlieb wrote. “My ultimate investigation into this matter confirms that Casey Close did, in fact, communicate all offers to Freddie Freeman and the sources I relied on were incorrect, in no uncertain terms.”
“I appreciate the damage that misinformation like this can cause,” Gottlieb added, “and have been in touch with Casey Close to apologize directly. I have also deleted my original tweet.”
Close, 58, is a principal of Excel and one of three managing partners. He has represented several hundred baseball players, including Hall of Famer Derek Jeter.
Gottlieb also tweeted on June 29 that Freeman had fired Close. However, Excel remains Freeman’s listed agency, according to the players’ association.
“From the onset, we were clear that Mr. Gottlieb’s tweet was wholly inaccurate and that we would seek legal remedies to set the record straight,” Close said in a statement. “He has retracted his statement in its entirety and acknowledged that he got the story wrong. We consider this matter closed.”
The suit remained pending as of midday Wednesday.
Gottlieb, 46, is affiliated with Fox Sports, the Pac-12 Network and CBS Sports, according to the suit.
Close said in the suit that the Braves on March 29, 2021, offered Freeman a $110 million, five-year deal starting in 2022, then made a $125 million, five-year proposal on Aug. 1 and a $135 million proposal on Aug. 4, all rejected by Freeman.
Close said he and the Braves had their final two conversations about a Freeman contract this March 12 and he made two proposals to the team that day that were rejected. Close said he asked the team if it had any offer he could present Freeman and was told the team did not.
Atlanta announced on March 14 it had acquired first baseman Matt Olson from Oakland, signaling the team no longer was attempting to retain Freeman. On March 17, Freeman signed a $162 million, six-year contract with the Dodgers.
Freeman is hitting .323 with 17 homers and 84 RBIs.
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