Wander Franco was placed on administrative leave indefinitely by Major League Baseball on Tuesday while authorities in the Dominican Republic investigate the All-Star shortstop for an alleged relationship with an underage girl.
The 22-year-old will be paid and receive service time while on administrative leave under an agreement with the players’ association. There is no timetable for a decision on whether Franco, who plays for the Tampa Bay Rays, will be disciplined.
“We support Major League Baseball’s decision to place Wander Franco on Administration Leave,” the Rays said in a statement. “The Tampa Bay Rays are dedicated to upholding high standards of integrity both on and off the field. We appreciate the understanding and patience of our fans and supporters as this process unfolds. We will have no further statements on this matter until MLB completes its process.”
Franco had previously been placed on the restricted list for a week on 14 August while MLB launched an investigation after social media posts appeared suggesting he was in a relationship with a minor. MLB said the shift to administrative leave was not disciplinary under the sport’s joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy. The administrative leave did not have the usual seven-day limit under the policy, so it is possible Franco will not return this season.
Ángel Darío Tejeda Fabal, a prosecutor in the Dominican Republic province of Peravia, said last week an investigation into Franco was open under a division specializing in minors and gender violence.
MLB is likely to wait until that investigation is concluded before deciding whether there will be any discipline. No criminal charges have been filed against Franco.
Franco was held out of the Rays’ lineup on 13 August in what manager Kevin Cash said was a day off, then missed a six-game road trip while on the restricted list.
MLB and the union agreed to the joint domestic violence policy in 2015. A player continues to receive pay and accrue major league service while on administrative leave.
Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer was on administrative leave between July 2021 and April 2022, when he was suspended for 324 games. The penalty was reduced by an arbitrator to 194 games. Bauer was accused of assault, an accusation he has repeatedly denied.
Franco has salaries of $2m this season and next as part of a $182m, 11-year contract that started in 2022.
Eighteen players have been disciplined by MLB under the domestic violence policy. The latest was New York Yankees pitcher Jimmy Cordero, who agreed on July 5 to a suspension for the final 76 games of the season.