MLB Star on Leave Amid Allegation of Ties to Minor

League and Dominican Republic investigating Wander Franco and allegations of improper relationship
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 14, 2023 7:23 AM CDT
Updated Aug 22, 2023 1:30 PM CDT
MLB Star Sidelined Amid Social Media Rumors
Tampa Bay Rays' Wander Franco watches from the dugout during a game against the Cleveland Guardians Sunday, Aug. 13, 2023, in St. Petersburg, Fla.   (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
UPDATE Aug 22, 2023 1:30 PM CDT

Tampa Bay Rays star Wander Franco won't be taking the field anytime soon amid an investigation that he had a relationship with at least one underaged girl. The team placed the 22-year-old on administrative leave Tuesday, reports the Guardian. Major League Baseball is investigating the allegations with authorities in his native Dominican Republic, per CNN. In its roundup of the situation, ESPN reports that at least two girls have come forward. Franco will continue to be paid during the inquiry.

Aug 14, 2023 7:23 AM CDT

One of baseball's best players is the subject of troubling allegations made on social media, and the league is investigating. On Saturday night, a series of Spanish-language posts went up on X, formerly Twitter, alleging that Tampa Bay Rays star Wander Franco, 22, has been involved in an inappropriate relationship with an underage girl, reports Deadspin. The posts went viral, making Franco's name the top-trending sports topic on the platform by Sunday afternoon, notes the Tampa Bay Times. Franco—"arguably the best shortstop in the American League this season," per the Times—sat out his team's game on Sunday.

"During today's game, we were made aware of the social media posts that are circulating regarding Wander Franco," the Rays said in a statement, per the AP. "We take the situation seriously and are in close contact with Major League Baseball as it conducts its due diligence." The team did not address the nature of the allegations, and Franco himself has not commented publicly. Sunday's game featured a promotion of a Wander Franco Snapback Hat for fans 14 and younger. Franco signed an 11-year contract in 2021 worth $182 million, but with an option that could eventually make it worth $233 million, notes USA Today. (More Major League Baseball stories.)

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