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The Rays will be without their biggest star for the foreseeable future.
Major League Baseball put Wander Franco on administrative leave “until further notice” on Aug. 22 as the league “continues its ongoing investigation” into allegations of an improper relationship between Franco and a minor.
Word of potential impropriety first circulated via social media on Aug. 13 and Franco was placed on the restricted list the following day, with the Rays saying he would be away from the team for its week-long road trip to face the Giants and Angels.
Franco has been in the midst of a breakout campaign. The former No. 1 prospect in the game has posted a .281/.344/.475 slash line with 17 home runs and 30 stolen bases in 2023 with 5.4 bWAR, second behind only Shohei Ohtani at 9.2.
Here’s what you need to know about the allegations surrounding Franco, and the latest on MLB’s investigation.
Wander Franco social media allegations
On Aug. 13, posts went viral on X (Twitter) alleging Franco had an inappropriate relationship with a minor.
In a video posted to Instagram, Franco denied the allegations, saying that people “don’t know what to do with their time” and saying “they don’t know what they’re talking about,” according to translations from 95.3 WDAE’s Jay Recher.
From Wander Franco’s IG Live :
“They say that I’m in public with a little girl, that I’m running around with a minor. People don’t know what to do with their time. They don’t know what they’re talking about. That’s why I prefer to be on my side & not get involved with anybody.” pic.twitter.com/DEtsHCrbQW
— Jay Recher (@jayRecher) August 14, 2023
Following Tampa Bay’s 9-2 loss to the Guardians that day, Rays manager Kevin Cash called Franco’s absence from the series finale “just a day off,” and when pressed further, acknowledged he was aware of the allegations on social media.
“I’m aware of the speculation. I’m not going to comment any further on that,” Cash said.
On Aug. 14, the Dominican Republic’s Diario Libre reported that “there is a complaint filed by a minor against Wander Franco,” per the Attorney General of the country. The young woman in question was not the one mentioned in the social media posts.
The Attorney General of the Dominican Republic says that there is a complaint filed by a minor against Wander Franco.
— Héctor Gómez (@hgomez27) August 15, 2023
The next day, Angel Dario Tejeda Fabal — a prosecutor in Peravia — revealed that the investigation into Franco was being handled by a division a division known as the National Agency for Boys, Girls, Adolescents and Family and Gender Violence Unit. The unit specializes in cases involving minors and gender violence.
“This is a very delicate topic because there is a minor involved,” Fabal said, per ESPN.
No charges have been filed against Franco.
Hector Gomez reported Aug. 16 that per sources close to the investigation, “it will be very unlikely that Wander Franco will play in MLB again, judging by the results of the investigations that are currently being carried out, which directly commit him to the accusations against him.”
Wander Franco investigation news
The investigation into Franco is ongoing.
Per the Rays, Franco agreed with the team to be placed on the restricted list as of Aug. 14 and missed the team’s next road trip: three games at the Giants and three at the Angels.
The Rays issued a statement that read: “We support any steps taken by the league to better understand the situation. Out of respect for all parties involved, we have no further comments at this time.”
Tampa Bay returned home Aug. 22 to open a series against the Rockies. Earlier that day, MLB announced Franco had been placed on administrative leave as part of an agreement with the MLB Players’ Association.
“The administrative leave, effective immediately, is not disciplinary under the Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy,” MLB said in a release. “We will comment further at the appropriate time.”
Even Drellich of The Athletic reported the length of Franco’s leave is “tied to when certain things happen in the course of the investigation” rather than a specific period of time.
What is MLB administrative leave?
MLB can put players on administrative leave in conjunction with the MLBPA as it looks into potential violations of league policy.
Players are paid and continue to accumulate service time while on administrative leave, which can be extended indefinitely with approval from the MLBPA. Franco does have the right to appeal the designation within seven days, and if he does his case would be heard by a neutral arbitrator.
The most recent high-profile example of an MLB player being placed on administrative leave was Trevor Bauer, who was initially put on the list on July 2, 2021 after being accused of sexual assault. The league and the players’ union continued to extend that designation through April 29, 2022, when the league announced it was suspending him for 324 games — two full seasons.
An arbitrator later reduced the suspension to an unpaid 194 games and essentially credited him with time served, reinstating him as of Dec. 22, 2022. The Dodgers released him on Jan. 12, 2023 and he signed a one-year deal with Japan’s Yokohama BayStars on March 13.
How old is Wander Franco?
Franco is 22 years old. He was born on March 1, 2001. He debuted on June 22, 2021, as one of the youngest players in the sport at just 20 years old.