Radio host admits making false claim about Freeman talks

NEW YORK — A radio host has admitted falsely claiming that agent Casey Close never told first baseman Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves’ latest contract offer.

Doug Gottlieb tweeted on June 29 that “Casey Close never informed Freddie Freeman of the Braves’ final offer,” Close and Excel Sports Management sued Gottlieb in mid-July in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, alleging defamation by defamation.

Gottlieb tweeted an apology Wednesday.

“After further checking my sources, reviewing the lawsuit against me in this matter, and direct conversation with Casey himself, I have learned that the conduct I alleged did not occur and that there was no credible basis to say it happened,” Gottlieb wrote. “My ultimate investigation into this matter confirms that Casey Close did in fact pass on all of the offers to Freddie Freeman and that the sources on which I relied were incorrect, in no uncertain terms.”

“I appreciate the damage misinformation like this can cause,” Gottlieb added, “and have been in touch with Casey Close to apologize directly. I’ve also deleted my original tweet.

Close, 58, is a director 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 fired Close. However, Excel remains Freeman’s listed agency, according to the players’ association.

“From the start, we were clear that Mr. Gottlieb’s tweet was completely inaccurate and that we would seek legal remedies to set the record straight,” Close said in a statement. “He retracted his statement in full and admitted that he got the story wrong. We consider this case closed.

Close and Excel filed a notice of voluntary termination later Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

Gottlieb, 46, is affiliated with Fox Sports, the Pac-12 Network and CBS Sports, according to the lawsuit.

Close said in the suit that the Braves on March 29, 2021, offered Freeman a five-year, $110 million contract starting in 2022, then made a five-year, $125 million offer on August 1. and a $135 million proposal on August 1. 4, all rejected by Freeman.

Close said he and the Braves had their last two conversations about a Freeman contract on March 12 and that he made two offers to the team that day that were rejected. Close said he asked the team if they had an offer for Freeman and were told they didn’t.

Atlanta announced on March 14 that it had acquired first baseman Matt Olson from Oakland, signaling that the team was no longer trying to retain Freeman. On March 17, Freeman signed a six-year, $162 million contract with the Dodgers.

Freeman is hitting .323 with 17 home runs and 84 RBIs.

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