The Tampa Bay Rays and star shortstop Wander Franco have mutually agreed he will go on the restricted list and not be with the club during their current road trip, the team announced Monday. A league source confirms to The Athletic that Major League Baseball has launched an official investigation into the matter.
The development comes after the Rays’ statement to multiple outlets Sunday night that MLB is looking into social media posts regarding Franco, saying that the team is in “close contact” with the league as it conducts its “due diligence.”
The Rays did not specify the nature of the social media content in their statement. However, on Sunday, online posts went viral that alleged Franco, 22, engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a minor.
“During today’s game, we were made aware of the social media posts that are circulating regarding Wander Franco,” the Rays’ statement said Sunday. “We take the situation seriously and are in close contact with Major League Baseball as it conducts its due diligence.”
After the news broke, several media outlets reported that Franco denied the allegations during an Instagram Live segment. The post is no longer available to view on Instagram and it is not clear when it was published.
Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash addressed Franco not playing in the Rays’ 9-2 loss to the Guardians on Sunday, saying it was “just a day off.”
“I’m aware of the speculation. I’m not going to comment any further on that,” Cash told reporters. “But the day off was because (it’s) a day off.”
Franco, in his third year with Tampa Bay, earned his first All-Star nod this season. He started each of the Rays’ past 20 games prior to Sunday. Tampa Bay faces the Giants on Monday in San Francisco.
(Photo: Thomas Skrlj / MLB Photos via Getty Images)