In a recent development, Wander Franco, the young shortstop for the Tampa Bay Rays, has been put on paid administrative leave by Major League Baseball (MLB) as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations involving an inappropriate relationship with a minor. This move comes as a significant step in addressing the situation.
MLB released a statement, clarifying that the administrative leave, effective immediately, is not a punitive measure based on the Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Child Abuse Policy. Additional comments are expected to be provided by the league as the situation unfolds.
Under MLB regulations, the league has the authority to impose administrative leave for a duration of up to seven days without the need for approval from the player or the players’ union. However, any extension beyond this initial period would require a substantiated cause, a procedure previously followed in cases like that of former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer, who faced accusations leading to a suspension.
The Tampa Bay Rays promptly expressed their support for the league’s decision to place Franco on administrative leave. The team emphasized its strong commitment to upholding integrity both on and off the field.
Earlier, during a road trip, the Rays had temporarily placed Franco on the restricted list—a decision that was mutually agreed upon by Franco and approved by MLB. Restricted list assignments are limited to one-week intervals and necessitate renewal for any extension.
Franco, a standout player selected for the 2023 American League All-Star, was in the midst of an impressive season, boasting a .281 batting average, along with 17 home runs and 30 stolen bases. However, the emergence of allegations through social media posts triggered MLB’s involvement in investigating the matter.
Notably, Franco had faced a two-game suspension from the Rays earlier in the season due to instances of emotional outbursts and concerns about his teamwork. This suspension had followed an altercation with fellow teammate Randy Arozarena.
At the age of 22, Franco finds himself under scrutiny by authorities in the Dominican Republic for potential offenses involving minors. A complaint filed by a 17-year-old girl spurred the investigation, as reported by the Dominican newspaper Diario Libre. Franco utilized his Instagram account to refute the allegations, yet he has refrained from public statements on the matter.
It’s worth mentioning that Franco remains under contract with the Tampa Bay Rays and is currently in the second year of an 11-year agreement valued at $182 million. As the investigation continues, he will continue to receive his salary during the period of administrative leave. The outcome of the investigation remains to be seen as MLB and concerned parties await further information.