Wander Franco
Wander Franco Wikimedia Commons

SEATTLE - Major League Baseball and the players' association reached an agreement that will keep Tampa Bay Rays' shortstop Wander Franco on administrative leave through, at least, June 1 as authorities continue the investigation on the Dominican's alleged relationship with a minor.

This comes after Franco was initially placed on administrative leave last August after a social media post went viral suggesting Franco was in a relationship with a 14-year-old. The Dominican shortstop allegedly paid the victim's mother thousands of dollars for her consent. He was originally accused of commercial and sexual exploitation and money laundering, but is now being accused of sexual and psychological abuse instead, according to a judge's resolution in the Dominican Republic.

As Franco awaits a resolution to the case, he could face between two to five years in prison if found guilty on the new charge. On top of that, he could still be suspended by Major League Baseball, as officials could open an investigation under the league's domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy.

The Tampa Bay Times also reported that Franco was taken off the Rays' 40-man roster for Thursday's Opening Day game against the Toronto Blue Jays and will remain on administrative league until the Summer.

MLB and the players' union established a two-month window in case any developments in his case become clearer. Franco has remained in his native Dominican Republic since the investigation started, as he is required to make monthly check-ins with court officials through the end of June unless his case is resolved before then.

Since entering to the majors in 2021, Franco was regarded as one of the best young players in the league. During his first season in MLB, he finished among the top three for Rookie of the Year voting, which led the Rays to offer him a $182 million, 11-year contract in November 2021. Before he was placed on administrative leave, Franco was having an exceptional 2023 season, earning the first All-Star appearance of his career thanks to 17 homers and a batting split of .281/.344/.445 in 112 games played.

At the time, Franco's deal was the largest contract in the Rays' entire history and the largest for someone with just one year of experience in the majors. Tampa Bay still owe Franco $174 million of the guaranteed deal he signed in 2021.

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