According to ESPN, sources, the 22-year-old Wander Franco All-Star did not board the team flight to San Francisco in advance of the Rays’ series against the Giants because Major League Baseball was investigating social media posts made by Tampa Bay shortstop Wander Franco.
The Rays released a statement on Sunday saying, “We were made aware of the social media posts that are circulating regarding Wander Franco during today’s game.”
“We take the situation seriously, and we’re working closely with Major League Baseball as it does its due diligence,” the statement reads.
Tampa Bay omitted information about the content of the social media posts.
While MLB investigates the social media posts to confirm the details, Franco might be put on the restricted list or put on administrative leave.
When questioned by ESPN about Franco missing the team flight, the Rays declined to comment.
Franco was in the Rays’ bench at the start of the game and exited in the fifth inning of Sunday’s game against Cleveland, which he did not participate in.
Following Tampa Bay’s 9-2 loss, he avoided speaking to the media.
The Wander Franco snapback hat was the Sunday promotion at Tropicana Field for spectators aged 14 and under.
After the game, Rays manager Kevin Cash was questioned about if Franco’s absence from the game presented anything other than a typical day off. Cash affirmed, “No.”
Cash stated, “I’m aware of the rumors, but I’m not going to comment further on that.” The reason it was a day off was “the day off.”
In his first major league start at shortstop, the Rays brought up Osleivis Basabe.
During his game Saturday night with Triple-A Durham, Basabe, who went 1-for-3 with a double, found out he was being promoted.
Teams have used the restricted list, when a player is removed from the roster and typically not paid, for a number of reasons, including treatment for substance addiction, arrests, failure to report, problems with visas, and at the request of players to resolve particular problems.
As the league looked into domestic abuse charges against him, former Los Angeles Dodgers starter Trevor Bauer was placed on administrative leave, which resulted in his removal from the roster but continued to receive compensation.
To put a player on administrative leave, MLB and the MLB Players Association must agree.
Franco joined Tampa Bay in November 2021, signing an 11-year, $182 million contract that, if the team’s 2033 option is exercised, could be worth up to $223 million.
In terms of wins above replacement this season, Franco, who was selected to his first All-Star squad, is among the league leaders.281/.344/.475 with 58 RBIs, 17 home runs, and 30 of 40 attempts at basestealing in 112 games.
For “not being the best teammate,” according to Cash, Franco was benched by the Rays earlier this season because of the manner he handled his anger on the field.
On Monday, the Rays and Giants will start a three-game series.