In a recent development, the Tampa Bay Rays have taken shortstop Wander Franco off the Administrative Leave list, where he had been since mid-August amid allegations of inappropriate relationships with underage girls. This move has raised questions among fans about his legal situation and potential return to Major League Baseball. However, the situation is not as straightforward as it may seem.
So Why Was Franco Taken Off Administrative Leave?
Franco’s removal from administrative leave is due to a specific off-season policy. During this time, there are no exempt lists for players. This policy also applies to other injured players like Shane McClanahan, Jeffrey Springs, and Drew Rasmussen, who are recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2023. All these players will be activated from the 60-day injured list and re-added to the team’s roster as there are no injured lists or administrative lists during the off-season.
What Does This Mean For His Legal Investigation?
Despite his removal from the administrative leave list, the legal investigation in the Dominican Republic involving Franco is still ongoing. It is important to note that Major League Baseball will likely wait until the legal process is completed before taking any action against the Rays’ shortstop. Just like players returning from injuries, administrative leave lists open when Spring Training begins. If the investigations are still ongoing at that time, Franco may be placed back on the administrative leave list, continue to receive his pay, and accrue service time until the process concludes.
How Does This Affect The Rays Through The Off-Season?
Until the legal matters are resolved, the Rays will have to prepare for the possibility that Franco might not return to the team in the near future. This uncertainty makes planning and roster management challenging for the team, especially since the 22-year-old will have to take up a 40-man roster spot until either the investigations are completed or the administrative leave list reopens in the spring.