Rays' Wander Franco has leave extended as investigation continues, per report

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have agreed to extend Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco’s administrative league through July 14, reports the Tampa Bay Times. Franco’s administrative leave was set to expire on June 1. The extension is a procedural move to allow more time for developments in a potential criminal case.

Franco has been away from the Rays since last August, when allegations first surfaced that he had an inappropriate relationship with a minor. He has not yet been charged with a crime, though an investigation remains underway in Franco’s native Dominican Republic.

In January, prosecutors delivered roughly 600 pages of evidence showing Franco had a relationship with a 14-year-old girl, and at the same time provided the girl’s mother with cash payments and a car in exchange for her consenting to the relationship. Prosecutors accused Franco of “commercial sexual exploitation” and money laundering.

Authorities have until July 5 to file formal charges. There have been no new developments since January and there is no indication when the investigation could be concluded. Franco’s status on administrative leave is subject to change before July 14 pending a resolution in the case.

Administrative leave removes Franco from the roster. He was placed on administrative leave last August and had to be placed back on it on Opening Day because there is no administrative leave in the offseason. Franco did not report to spring training, in part because it is unclear whether he would be allowed into the United States on his work visa with charges pending.

Once the criminal investigation in the Dominican Republic is complete, Franco will be investigated by MLB and will almost certainly suspended under the league’s joint domestic violence policy. Criminal charges or a conviction are not required for discipline under the domestic violence policy.

Franco, 23, is in Year 3 of the 11-year, $182 million contract he signed in Nov. 2021. He is owed a $2 million salary this season and players on administrative leave continue to be paid and accrue service time.

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