Freddie Freeman has reportedly filed paperwork to terminate his relationship with his long-time agents at Excel Sports Management, saying in a statement his “representation remains a fluid situation” barely three months after he signed a six-year, $162-million contract with the Dodgers.
Earlier Tuesday afternoon, ESPN reported that Freeman was planning to change representation.
According to a person with knowledge of the situation who wasn’t authorized to speak on the record, the MLB Players Assn. sent an email to all agents asking them not to contact Freeman, a procedure that typically takes place after a player changes representation.
In his statement, which was provided to MLB.com, Freeman said he is “working through some issues with my longtime agents at Excel” and that he will “update [the situation] if needed.”
The move served as the latest sign Freeman was seemingly unhappy with the way his free agency unfolded before the season, when the long-time Atlanta Braves star failed to strike a new contract with his old team despite his publicly stated desire to remain in Atlanta.
Entering the offseason, the industry expectation was that Freeman would re-sign with the Braves. Even the Dodgers, who quietly courted him before MLB’s 99-day lockout, weren’t initially optimistic of luring the former MVP away.
But when free agency resumed following the lockout’s end in March, negotiations between the Braves and Freeman’s camp quickly fell apart.
At the crux of the fallout was a reported deadline Freeman’s agents at Excel gave to the Braves for March 12. According to an ESPN report at the time, the Braves had offered a deal of five years and $140 million, to which Freeman’s agents responded with two counter proposals, one for five years and another for six years, both for significantly more money.
The two sides failed to find middle ground. And two days later, the Braves acquired All-Star first baseman Matt Olson from the Oakland Athletics, effectively eliminating any chance of Freeman returning to the only club for which he’d ever played.
After signing with the Dodgers on March 16 — in a deal that included $57 million in deferred payments, giving it a present-day value of just over $148 million — Freeman voiced displeasure with the Braves during his introductory news conference with the Dodgers.
He said he had been “blindsided” by the Olson trade, maintaining that up until that point he still believed he’d return to Atlanta.
He noted that Braves brass had only contacted him directly twice during the entire process, bemoaning that “the communication wasn’t there as we went through the offseason.”
He even seemed to doubt the sincerity of Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos’ tearful emotions earlier that week over the apparent loss of the franchise first baseman.
“The last week has been a little bit of a whirlwind,” Freeman said at the time. “But I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else right now.”
In the three months since, however, Freeman’s view of his free agency process seems to have changed.
He had a three-hour FaceTime call with Anthopoulos in which “he said his side and I listened,” Freeman said. “And that was the closure I needed.”
And while he didn’t offer many specifics while reflecting on his free agency, his stance toward the Braves appeared to have softened from the spring — while his dissatisfaction with his agents had apparently skyrocketed.
“I know a lot of people don’t know exactly what happened and I’m not going to be one to put it in quotes and the media, I’m just not here to do that PR stuff,” he said. “I talked to the people I needed to talk to after everything went down. My wife and I are at peace. If you think about the past, it’s only going to affect your happiness in the present and the future. That’s where we have settled on.”
Freeman added: “Can’t change anything that happened. All you can do is learn from your experiences. And I have definitely learned a lot.”