Authorities in the Dominican Republic are investigating Tampa Bay Rays All-Star shortstop Wander Franco for an alleged relationship with a minor, according to a statement on Monday from the country’s office of the attorney general.
The Rays had earlier placed the 22-year-old on the restricted list, a move that will sideline Franco for at least six games while MLB investigates social media posts involving the player.
The investigations follow reported social media posts suggesting Franco was in a relationship with a minor. The Associated Press has not been able to verify the reported posts. Asked about Franco’s alleged relationship with the minor, the media office of the attorney general in the Dominican Republic said in a statement “there are investigations regarding that matter.”
It was not immediately clear if Franco had retained an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
The Rays did not detail the nature of the social media posts but said the team and Franco “mutually agreed” he would go on the restricted list. Franco will be paid during his time on the restricted list.
Franco did not play in Sunday’s home series finale against Cleveland at Tropicana Field and did not accompany the Rays to San Francisco for the start of a six-game road trip that begins Monday night against the Giants.
“The Tampa Bay Rays and Wander Franco have mutually agreed that he will go on the Restricted List and take leave from the club for the duration of the current road trip,” the team said in a statement.
Franco sat on the bench in the Rays’ dugout during a portion of Sunday’s game. He left in the fifth inning and was not in the clubhouse following a 9-2 loss to the Guardians.
A day later, manager Kevin Cash declined to discuss the situation in specifics but said he remained confident in his club’s ability to focus on baseball.
“It’s a good group, a good balance of young players that bring a lot of energy, we’ve got some veterans that have really done a nice job over the course of the season withstanding a long season and the stuff that goes into a five-month season,” Cash said. “I am confident in that. We’ve been playing pretty good baseball, let’s see if we can continue.”
After Sunday’s game, Cash was asked whether there was any issue with Franco not playing other than a regular day off. Cash replied: “No.”
“I’m aware of the speculation, and I’m not going to comment any further on that,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said after Sunday’s game. “[Franco did not play] because [it was] a day off.”
Franco was benched for two games in late June for how he has responded to frustrating situations and – in Cash’s words at the time – “not always being the best teammate”.
The budget-conscious Rays signed Franco to an $182m, 11-year contract in November 2021, a deal with a team option for 2033 that could be worth $223m.