Casey Close, the former agent of Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman, filed a lawsuit in New York on Thursday, in conjunction with Excel Sports Management, alleging libel against Fox Sports radio host Doug Gottlieb.
At issue is a Twitter post from Gottlieb on June 29 that said Close never informed Freeman of a final contract offer from the Atlanta Braves during free-agent negotiations in March.
“Casey Close never told Freddie Freeman about the Braves final offer, that is why Freeman fired him,” Gottlieb wrote on Twitter. “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”
Freeman eventually signed a free-agent deal with the Dodgers, but only after the Braves made a trade to acquire former Oakland Athletics first baseman Matt Olson while negotiations were ongoing.
Gottlieb’s post came shortly after Freeman fired Close and Excel Sports Management on June 28. The decision by the 2020 National League MVP came in the wake of his emotional return to Atlanta when he shed tears on multiple occasions talking about his former time as a Braves player.
“Although we gave Mr. Gottlieb an opportunity to retract his false statement, he failed to do so,” Close said in a statement, according to ESPN. “The Complaint sets the record straight as to what occurred during the negotiations with the Atlanta Braves.”
Close and Excel Sports Management helped Freeman secure a six-year, $162 million deal with the Dodgers.
The attorneys for Close and Excel Sports Management also provided ESPN with a statement: “Doug Gottlieb’s statement — Casey Close, a respected member of the sports agent community for over 30 years, did not communicate a contract offer to a client — is not only wholly false, but also is an attack on the character of Mr. Close and his highly reputable agency, Excel Sports Management. Such reckless misconduct by Mr. Gottlieb will not be tolerated.”
–Field Level Media