Rays’ Wander Franco placed on administrative leave, sources say

Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco was placed on paid administrative leave through June 1 after an agreement between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association was reached with his criminal case for having an alleged sexual relationship with a 14-year-old in the Dominican Republic still unresolved, sources told ESPN.

The agreement, sources said, allows Franco’s status with MLB to change if there are further developments in the case, in which prosecutors allege that he broke sexual exploitation and money-laundering laws. Franco has yet to be formally charged.

Sources familiar with the judicial process against Franco told ESPN that there have been no significant changes and they continue to carry out the corresponding investigations, with no set date on which they plan to file a formal accusation.

In January, during a coercive measures hearing, prosecutors were given six months to present their accusation against Franco.

The 23-year-old Franco, who made his first All-Star team last year, spent the final six weeks of the 2023 season on administrative leave following allegations that he had sex with the teenaged girl when he was 21. Players can be placed on administrative leave when under investigation by MLB for violating the league’s domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy.

Franco will be paid his $2 million salary despite not reporting to spring training. Franco remains under contract through 2032 and is owed $174 million.

If there is no resolution by June 1, the parties could extend Franco’s administrative leave, place him on the restricted list — where he would not be paid — or come to an alternate agreement.

Franco continued to train in his native Dominican Republic over the winter, but his ability to secure the visa necessary to come to the United States remained a question. MLB’s investigation into Franco is unlikely to be completed until there’s more clarity on the status of his criminal case. He could face significant discipline under the league’s policy, including a suspension.


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