Casey Close is one of the most respected sports agents in the business. He represented Derek Jeter throughout his Yankee career, and Close has several current and former stars whom he’s made hundreds of millions of dollars for in contract negotiations.
Close stays under the radar; he’s never quoted in stories unless he has to be, and it’s difficult to find anyone with a negative thing to say about him, making what he did this week so interesting.
Close represents Dodgers first baseman, Freddy Freeman. Several weeks ago, when Freeman returned to Atlanta to play the team he spent his entire career with before signing with Los Angeles, Close found himself in the middle of a soap opera.
News broke out that Freeman had fired Close, and Doug Gottlieb, a talk show host for Fox Sports, tweeted that the reason Freeman canned Close was Close withheld an offer from the Braves after last season, which forced Freeman to sign with the Dodgers.
People who knew Close found that nearly impossible to believe. This is what Jeter said at the time.
“He is a man who values morals, integrity and above all else, honesty and transparency.”
Close refuted Gottlieb’s report, saying he had communicated all of the offers from the Braves to Freeman, adding, “There is no truth whatsoever to what Doug Gottlieb tweeted, and I would testify to that under oath.”
Close proved he is a man of his word; he sued Gottlieb for libel, saying he received death threats from people believed to be Atlanta Braves fans.
Close says that Gottlieb’s tweet has cost him and his agency tens of millions of dollars.
Jeff Passan is a top baseball writer for ESPN, and he reported what would have to happen for Close to win this lawsuit.
“If his private-figure status is upheld by a court in the Southern District of New York, Close would need to prove Gottlieb’s statement was false and made with negligence. For public figures, the threshold is that the defendant published the statement with “actual malice,” or, as the Supreme Court defined, “knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.”