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Analysis

What’s The Next Step For Rays Regarding Franco?

Rays shortstop Wander Franco batting
photo: Will Vragovic/Tampa Bay Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays Tuesday placed shortstop Wander Franco on administrative leave while Major League Baseball conducts their investigation into allegations that Franco was engaged in improper relationships with underage girls.

“Per an agreement between MLB and the MLBPA, Wander Franco has been placed on Administrative Leave until further notice as MLB continues its ongoing investigation,” the league said in a statement.  “The administrative leave, effective immediately, is not disciplinary under the Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy. We will comment further at the appropriate time.”

“We support Major League Baseball’s decision to place Wander Franco on Administration Leave,” the Rays said in a statement.  “The Tampa Bay Rays are dedicated to upholding high standards of integrity both on and off the field. We appreciate the understanding and patience of our fans and supporters as this process unfolds.

“We will have no further statements on this matter until MLB completes its process.”

Why Did The Rays Place Franco On Administrative Leave?

By moving the shortstop from the restricted list, where he had been been for the last week while the team was on their west coast road trip, to the administrative leave list, the team removes the chance for the Major League Baseball Players Association to file a grievance against the team on Franco’s behalf for leaving the shortstop on a list that could potentially keep him from being paid or accruing service time.  By moving him to administrative leave, the Rays will continue to pay Franco his $2 million salary for the season, and he will continue to accrue service time (he’ll finish the 2023 season with two years, 104 days of service time).  The team can renew Franco’s stint on administrative leave weekly without requiring consent from the player or the player’s association, which he would have if the team kept him on the restricted list.

Why Are The Rays Continuing To Pay Franco?

As a member of the Major League Baseball Players Association, Franco is entitled to due process throughout the league’s investigation, which means that he is entitled to be paid until the league completes its inquiry and renders its decision.  It’s exactly the same scenario the Los Angeles Dodgers found themselves in with pitcher Trevor Bauer when he was accused to sexual misconduct.

How Long Could This Investigation Take?

It’s not clear how long the investigation by the league could take, but Franco is also being investigated by the Dominican government on these accusations, and the possibility of criminal charges against Franco are also out there.  I think it’s reasonable to believe that Franco will not play again for the Rays this season, and if he faces a criminal conviction, his baseball career could be in jeopardy.

Written By

Steve Carney is the founder and publisher of St. Pete Nine. One of the people most associated with baseball coverage in Tampa Bay, he spent 13 seasons covering the Rays for flagship radio station WDAE, first as producer of Rays Radio broadcasts, then as beat reporter beginning in 2011. He likes new analytics and aged bourbon, and is the owner of one of the ugliest knuckleballs ever witnessed by baseball scouts.

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