Freddie Freeman's agency situation remains 'fluid,' but the Dodger is ready to move on

Freddie Freeman’s agency situation remains ‘fluid,’ but the Dodger is ready to move on

DENVER — Freddie Freeman wouldn’t confirm that he had fired his representatives at Excel Sports Management after an ESPN report surfaced Tuesday morning, calling the situation between himself and the agency “fluid.”

But the Dodgers first baseman said he’s ready to move on.

“It was special,” Freeman said Tuesday of the tearful weekend the Dodgers spent at Truist Park, one in which he stated he wasn’t looking to close the book on his time with the franchise where he spent the first 15 years of his career.

“But there needs to be closure. It’s time. I’m a Dodger. I’m a Dodger for the next six years and that’s where my focus lies. I’m going to continue and help win titles for the Los Angeles Dodgers.”

Closing that book has involved learning more about how he landed in Los Angeles in the first place, after months in which the 2020 National League MVP had openly stated his intentions to return to the Braves. It had appeared to be an inevitability until it wasn’t. The Dodgers’ discussions with Freeman were hopeful, though not optimistic before Major League Baseball’s lockout shut down player movement this winter. Freeman wanted to be a Brave; he’d said as much before, during and after they won the World Series last November.

But the two sides never came to an agreement; according to ESPN, the Braves made an offer of five years and $140 million. Freeman’s representatives at Excel responded with two counter-proposals, one at five years and another at six. The Braves balked.

Days later, the club had a trade and contract extension completed with Oakland’s Matt Olson. Freeman signed with his hometown Dodgers for six years and $162 million, with $57 million in deferred money.

And after stating during his introductory news conference that he was “blindsided” when the Braves traded for his replacement days earlier, having made just minimal contact through the winter, Freeman struck a different tone.

He’s had three months to process his surprise departure, as well as diagnose why he’s no longer there.

“I’ve learned a lot,” Freeman said, “because I’ve talked to the other side.”

The MLB Players Association recently sent out an email to all agents asking them not to contact Freeman, a source told The Athletic, a standard procedure for a player switching agents. An MLB.com report stated that Freeman has already filed paperwork to terminate Excel. Speaking Tuesday, Freeman referred to a statement he had given to MLB.com, which said he is “working through some issues with my longtime agents at Excel. My representation remains a fluid situation and I will update if needed.”

Freeman has been “gathering information” for months, he said, speaking with Atlanta president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos shortly before the Braves came to visit Dodger Stadium in April; but an emotion-stirring weekend in his old home didn’t bring to light anything new, Freeman said.

The timing of the move to switch agencies, which ESPN reported Tuesday morning, comes just days after a three-day lovefest in Atlanta, including a teary 15-minute news conference on Friday that drew a public reaction.

In comments to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw noted the “classy” ceremony the Braves put together to honor Freeman and give him his World Series ring from their triumph last fall, before adding, “and I hope we’re not second fiddle. It’s a pretty special team over here, too. I think whenever he gets comfortable over here, he’ll really enjoy it.”

Over the weekend, Kershaw declined to discuss it further, reiterating that he felt the Braves had done a nice job of honoring their longtime franchise star. Freeman said he and Kershaw had discussed the left-hander’s comments, and the two former MVPs are “good.”

The public sentiment persisted over the weekend, centered around Freeman’s public adoration for his former club.

“If you were in a relationship for 15 years, and it ended, you’re going to have feelings,” Freeman said. “And I’ve had feelings. I’ve been going through this process of grieving and now I’m in the healing process and the moving on process.

“I spent 15 years with the Atlanta Braves. I wasn’t gonna try and be a macho man about my feelings about how I had a great time with the Atlanta Braves. That time is over. I’m a Los Angeles Dodger now. If they want to perceive feelings, how I feel about an organization I spent half my life with, then that’s how they want to perceive me and that’s fine. I’m OK with that.”

It’s a sentiment shared in part by teammates and his manager alike. Trea Turner, the All-Star shortstop the Dodgers acquired last July after spending his entire big-league career (and winning a World Series) with the Nationals, conceded it “definitely took me a little while” to process the move, adding of Freeman, “He’s got real feelings, whatever they may be. You’ve got to listen to what he says more so than what’s written about him or who says what.”

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, when asked about Freeman’s outpouring of emotions over the weekend, told The Athletic: “If anyone has a problem with it, that’s on them. It shouldn’t be a problem. This guy has helped us win a shit ton of games this year and will continue to do so. And for him to have his moment with a team that he poured 15 years into, I don’t see a problem with it.”

Despite his clear frustration with his free-agent process and the emotional exhaustion that’s stemmed from it, Freeman repeatedly emphasized his satisfaction with the club he’ll spend the next six years with.

“I’m grateful to be able to put on this uniform every single day,” Freeman said, “and I will continue to do that for the next six years.

“I’m happy to be a Dodger. That’s where my focus lies.”

(Photo: Ron Chenoy / USA Today)


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