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Monday, July 15, 2024

Criminal Charges Mean No Pay for Wander Franco

  • He was charged with sexual abuse and human trafficking Tuesday.
  • The Rays moved him to the restricted list after the charges were announced.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Rays put Wander Franco on the restricted list Wednesday. It’s a bureaucratic move with major implications: The shortstop will no longer be getting paid or receiving major league service time.

Franco had been away from baseball while authorities in the Dominican Republic investigated social media allegations that he had sexually abused and human trafficked a 14-year-old girl.

Under the terms of an agreement between Franco, the Rays, MLB, and its players’ union, Franco had been getting paid while the investigation was ongoing. He had signed an 11-year, $182 million contract in 2021.

On Tuesday, authorities in the Dominican Republic announced three charges against Franco, including sexual abuse and human trafficking. The girl’s mother was also charged with money laundering and human trafficking. Prosecutors allege that Franco was paying the girl’s mother for the four months when he abused her teenage daughter.

Franco was technically moved to the restricted list due to his inability to report to the Rays, according to ESPN. The terms of his bail bar him from leaving the Dominican Republic.

Tampa Bay immediately stopped payment on Franco’s $182 million contract, according to UPI. He had been receiving 50% of his base salary while on administrative leave, according to the Associated Press; that base was only $2.4 million this year before large increases were scheduled for 2025 and ’26.

The move from administrative leave to the restricted list is procedural and not disciplinary, according to several reports.

Franco’s trial begins in August; he is facing up to 20 years in prison if convicted. He left the Rays in August of last year after several young girls posted on social media that Franco had inappropriate relationships with them and authorities began investigating. He has not played since Aug. 12, 2023.

MLB and Tampa Bay said they were aware of the charges but had little to add while the case plays out in court. Rays manager Kevin Cash called the news “serious” and “very concerning.”

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