Major League Baseball will make a decision about whether to place him on administrative leave while investigating allegations against him of an improper relationship with an underaged girl.
The Rays placed their young star on the restricted list for a week through Monday – which Franco agreed to and MLB approved – before Tampa Bay embarked on a week-long road trip. The Rays have now returned to Tampa and will begin a six-game homestand Tuesday against the Colorado Rockies and New York Mets at Tropicana Field.
It’s possible the Rays and Franco could agree to extend the restricted list stay, but MLB could take over matters and place Franco on administrative leave until the investigation is completed. MLB can impose administrative leave without Franco or the union’s approval for seven days.
MLB would have to prove reasonable cause for an additional seven days. The union would have to approve any administrative leave after two weeks. This is the course of action MLB took with Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer, who was accused of assaulting a woman in 2021, and later suspended for 194 games.
Technically, it’s possible that Franco is cleared to play beginning Tuesday, but highly unlikely given the allegations.
Franco was accused of an inappropriate relationship with a minor after a series of social media posts circulated a week ago. He also is being investigated by authorities in the Dominican Republic involving at least two minors after a 17-year old-girl filed a complaint against Franco, according to the Dominican newspaper Diario Libre. Franco has retained legal counsel in the Dominican Republic while also hiring an attorney in the United States.
“This is a very delicate topic because there is a minor involved,’’ Angel Dario Tejada Fabal, a prosecutor in the Peravaia, a province of the Dominican Republic, told the Associated Press last week.
Relationships between adults and minors under the age of 18 years are prohibited in the Dominican Republic, no matter if the minor gives consent. The investigation is being handled by a division specializing in minors and gender violence.
Franco, who is being paid $2 million this year in the second year of an 11-year, $182 million contract, denied the allegations on his Instagram account last Sunday, but has yet to speak publicly or make a statement.
Franco, 22, who was given the largest contract in Rays’ history, is considered one of baseball’s finest young talents. He is hitting .281 with 17 homers and an .819 OPS this season while rated as one of the premier defensive shortstops in the game. Yet, there have been maturity issues along the way.
He was suspended two games this season by the Rays for emotional outbursts and “not being the best teammate,’’ Rays Manager Kevin Cash said. He also was involved in a scuffle with teammate Randy Arozarena.
The Rays, meanwhile, appear to be distancing themselves from Franco. They have removed highlights of him from their TV advertisements and promotions with Bally Sports, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: MLB could place Rays' Wander Franco on administrative leave Monday