Major League Baseball announced on Tuesday that Wander Franco, the star shortstop of the Tampa Bay Rays, has been placed on administrative leave “until further notice” as the league continues its investigation into allegations against him.
Franco, 22, has been on the restricted list since Aug. 14, when posts on social media about inappropriate relationships with underage people prompted the league to begin an investigation. M.L.B. clarified in its announcement on Tuesday that Franco was not being disciplined under the league’s joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy at this juncture. It also said it would “comment further at the appropriate time.”
In addition to M.L.B.’s investigation, The Associated Press reported that a prosecutor in the Dominican Republic had confirmed last week that Franco was under investigation there under a division specializing in minors and gender violence.
The change in Franco’s M.L.B. status will have little practical effect for the player, who has not appeared in a game since Aug. 12. The choice to place him on administrative leave matches the way the league handled the investigation of Trevor Bauer, a former Cy Young Award-winning pitcher who was accused of sexual assault by multiple women.
Under administrative leave, a player is removed entirely from the team’s roster but continues to be paid. The leave can be extended indefinitely with approval from the players’ union.
In Bauer’s case, the leave lasted through the second half of the 2021 season. He ended up being suspended for 324 games, and while the suspension was ended early by an independent arbitrator, making Bauer eligible for the 2023 season, he forfeited $37 million in overall salary. Upon his reinstatement, he was released by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He is currently pitching in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball.
Franco was an All-Star for the first time this season and has been considered a cornerstone of the Rays franchise. In November 2021, despite Franco’s having played only 70 games at the major league level, Tampa Bay signed him to a contract that guaranteed him $182 million over 11 years. He is in the second year of that contract.