Aug 14, 2023 - Sports

MLB investigating Wander Franco over alleged inappropriate relationship

Wander Franco

The Tampa Bay Rays' Wander Franco celebrates after scoring against the Tigers on Aug. 6 in Detroit, Michigan. Photo: Duane Burleson/Getty Images

The Rays placed shortstop Wander Franco on the restricted list Monday for at least a week as MLB launches an official investigation into allegations he engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a minor.

Context: Franco's leave comes while he had played "extraordinarily well over the last few weeks," the Tampa Bay Times reports. His batting average is fifth-best among position players.

Zoom in: The league's investigation is centered on a series of viral social media posts that appear to show, in part, Franco kissing a girl's cheek. Her face is blurred, and her age is in question. The girl is from the Dominican Republic where he grew up, per ESPN.

What they're saying: "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 Rays PR team posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The other side: Franco denied the allegations over an Instagram video. He said he remains focused on his performance on the field.

What's next: The investigation's findings could lead to a suspension. However, as of now, Franco is slated to return on Aug. 22.

Of note: This isn't the first time his behavior led him off the ball field. He got benched twice in June for not "being the best teammate."

  • The Rays signed Franco to an 11 year, $182 million contract extension in 2021.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Tampa Bay.

More Tampa Bay stories