Freddie Freeman wanted the story to just go away.
On Wednesday, however, the saga around his offseason free agency, departure from the Braves and apparent split from his agents continued to dominate baseball’s news cycle.
Though the Dodgers first baseman had a home run, two hits and a walk in the team’s 8-4 win over the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field, a new report about Freeman’s free agency process last offseason led to another chapter in a story that has followed him for almost a week.
Hours before the first pitch, Fox Sports Radio host Doug Gottlieb said that Casey Close, the agent at Excel Sports Management who led free-agency negotiations for Freeman that ended with him signing with the Dodgers, had never told Freeman about a supposed final contract offer the Braves made to keep the former MVP in Atlanta.
Gottlieb said Freeman found out during his return to Atlanta this weekend and that it prompted Freeman to terminate Excel as his representatives this week — something Freeman has not publicly confirmed, describing his representation status only as “fluid” amid reports he has filed paperwork to terminate his relationship with Excel.
Freeman declined to address Gottlieb’s report when approached after batting practice Wednesday.
A couple of hours later, Close released a vehement denial of the story through his agency.
“Doug Gottlieb tweeted a wholly inaccurate characterization of our negotiations with the Atlanta Braves on behalf of Freddie Freeman,” the statement read. “We are immediately evaluating all legal options to address the reckless publication of inaccurate information.”
The only thing that was clear by the end of the night: The off-the-field drama is having little effect on Freeman’s productivity at the plate.
In the series finale against the Rockies, Freeman hammered the first pitch he saw to dead center field for his ninth home run of the season.
In the fifth inning, he scored again on a Will Smith home run after hitting a leadoff single, marking Freeman’s seventh multi-hit game of his current 13-game hitting streak.
“It’s pretty remarkable,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Freeman, who on Wednesday also took the team lead in on-base-plus-slugging percentage at .888. “He just has a unique way of compartmentalizing the emotions with performance.”
It helped the Dodgers (46-28) avoid a sweep against the Rockies (33-43).
After scoring just four runs in the first two games, they scored four in Wednesday’s first two innings — after an Eddy Alvarez sacrifice fly and Trea Turner two-run double in the second — en route to their highest-scoring output at Coors Field this year.
Julio Urías cruised through most of a 51/3-inning, three-runs start, before getting into a jam in the sixth that was extinguished by Brusdar Graterol.
And while rain threatened the rest of the game, the Rockies never did again, with the Dodgers cruising to finish their nine-game trip 6-3.
Betts likely back before the break
Roberts said Wednesday he was “very optimistic” that outfielder Mookie Betts would return from a cracked rib before next month’s All-Star break, though noted it could initially be in a designated hitting role.
“Swinging of the bat is not as bothersome as throwing,” Roberts said. “Hopefully that continues to progress and he’ll be back with us sooner than later.”
Betts has been out since sustaining his injury in a collision with center fielder Cody Bellinger on June 15.
He swung a bat again for the first time on Tuesday, during his rehab back in Los Angeles, and Roberts said Betts reported feeling good afterward.
Roberts was hopeful Betts won’t require a rehab assignment either.
“I think each passing day will kind of change my assessment,” Roberts said. “So right now I would say no. But I just don’t know how long it’s going to be.”
Without Betts, the Dodgers have continued looking for new ways to compensate in the outfield.
On Wednesday, that meant playing Jake Lamb in left field for his first start with the Dodgers, after being called up on Tuesday. Lamb had a hit, a walk and two runs scored.