MLB News

Wander Franco placed on administrative leave, removed from Rays’ roster as investigation continues, per report

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Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco was placed on administrative leave through June 1 on Thursday and thus removed from the team’s 40-man roster, reports the Tampa Bay Times. The decision was made jointly by MLB and the MLB Players Association.

Franco has been away from the Rays since last August, when allegations first surfaced that he had an inappropriate relationship with a minor. He has not yet been charged with a crime, though an investigation remains underway in Franco’s native Dominican Republic, and Franco must check in with the court once a month until June 30, unless the case is resolved sooner.

In January, prosecutors delivered roughly 600 pages of evidence showing Franco had a relationship with a 14-year-old girl, and at the same time provided the girl’s mother with cash payments and a car in exchange for her consenting to the relationship. Prosecutors accused Franco of “commercial sexual exploitation” and money laundering.

There have been no new developments since January and there is no timetable for the investigation or the case to be concluded. Franco’s status on administrative leave is subject to change pending a resolution in the case.

Placing Franco on administrative leave is essentially a paper move that formally removes him from the roster. He was placed on administrative leave last August and had to be placed back on it on Opening Day because there is no administrative leave in the offseason. Franco did not report to spring training, in part because it is unclear whether he would be allowed into the United States on his work visa with charges pending.

Once the criminal investigation in the Dominican Republic is complete, Franco will be investigated by MLB and almost certainly suspended under the league’s joint domestic violence policy. Criminal charges or a conviction are not required for discipline under the domestic violence policy.

Franco, 23, is in Year 3 of the 11-year, $182 million contract he signed in Nov. 2021. He is owed a $2 million salary this season and players on administrative leave continue to be paid and accrue service time.

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