Rays' Wander Franco placed on administrative leave through June 1


March 28 (UPI) -- MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association agreed to place Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco on administrative leave until at least June 1, league sources told UPI on Thursday.

The Rays announced Thursday that Franco was removed from their 40-man roster and placed on administrative leave. They also placed outfielder Josh Lowe on the 10-day injured list.

The Rays optioned infielder Niko Goodrum to Triple-A and catcher Ben Rortvedt reported to the team in corresponding transactions.

Franco, 23, was first placed on leave Aug. 22 amid investigations into his alleged relationship with a minor. Franco, who has denied the allegations, needed to have is status clarified again to start this season, as his last leave expired at the end of the 2023 regular-season campaign.

Prosecutors in the Dominican Republic allege that Franco broke laws involving sexual exploitation and money laundering in his native country, but Franco has not been formally charged and remains under investigation.

He is required to report to court officials through June 30, or until his case is resolved.

Franco, who did not report to spring training, will still receive his $2 million salary. His is still owed $174 million for the remainder of his contract, which runs through 2032.

The 2023 All-Star hit .281 with a career-high 17 home runs, 30 stolen bases and 58 RBIs over 112 appearances last season.

Franco hit .277 with six home runs, eight stolen bases and 33 RBIs in 83 games in 2022. He was considered baseball's top prospect in 2021 and made his MLB debut on June 22 of that season.

Jose Caballero will fill in at shortstop during Franco's absence. The Rays were to host the Toronto Blue Jays in their regular-season opener at 4:10 p.m. EDT Thursday in St. Petersburg, Fla. Caballero is slotted in the No. 8 spot in the batting order.