Tampa Bay Rays star Wander Franco is under investigation in the Dominican Republic over an alleged relationship with a minor, officials in the country said Monday.
The media office of the attorney general in the Dominican Republic told The Associated Press “there are investigations” into Franco’s alleged relationship with a minor. The probe came after social media posts suggested the allegations against Franco.
The Rays placed Franco on the restricted list on Monday as MLB investigated the matter.
Franco reportedly went on Instagram Live before the team’s game against the Cleveland Guardians to deny the allegations. According to The Athletic, teammate Jose Siri was in the background of the video yelling in Spanish, “people after money.”
Tampa Bay has not detailed the nature of the social media posts but said the team and Franco “mutually agreed” he would go on the restricted list. He will be paid during his time on the restricted list.
“We support any steps taken by the league to better understand the situation,” the team said Monday of the MLB investigation. “Out of respect for all parties involved, we have no further comments at this time.”
Rays team president Erik Neander said on a media call, “Our comments on Wander are going to stand for what we have to say.”
Tampa Bay started their road trip Monday night against the San Francisco Giants. They will be on the road through next Sunday. After the Giants, they take on the Los Angeles Angels. The Rays return home to face the Colorado Rockies starting on Aug. 22.
Franco was in the team’s dugout to start Sunday’s game but left in the fifth inning. He was the key component of the organization’s promotion on Sunday – it was Wander Franco Snapback Hat Day and fans 14 and under could receive one when they walked through the gates into Tropicana Field.
Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash was asked whether there was any issue that Franco would not play other than having a scheduled day off. He said, “No.”
“I’m aware of the speculation, and I’m not going to comment any further on that,” Cash said. “The day off was because [it was] a day off.”
Franco was an All-Star for the first time this season. He is hitting .281 with 17 home runs and 58 RBI. He signed an 11-year, $182 million contract extension in November 2021. A team option in 2033 could make the deal worth $233 million when it is over.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.