Franco placed on administrative leave

March 28th, 2024

ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays shortstop was placed on administrative leave before Tampa Bay’s Opening Day game against the Blue Jays, MLB announced Thursday morning.

Franco’s leave, which removes him from the Rays’ 40-man roster, is effective through June 1, according to an MLB official, in a decision made through a joint agreement by Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association.

The Rays and Franco mutually agreed that the All-Star shortstop would be placed on the restricted list last Aug. 14, when MLB and authorities in Franco’s native Dominican Republic began investigating allegations that he had an inappropriate relationship with a minor. Franco was placed on indefinite administrative leave on Aug. 22 and did not play for the Rays the rest of the season.

He returned to Tampa Bay’s 40-man roster in a procedural move at the beginning of the offseason, but the 23-year-old did not report to Spring Training and was not expected to be part of the club’s Opening Day roster.

Franco has not been formally charged, and there has been no update regarding the status of MLB’s ongoing investigation. If there are no new major developments regarding his case by the end of his administrative leave window, all sides can reconvene and choose to extend his stay, move him to the restricted list or consider other options. The administrative leave stint could also end earlier if there is a significant change in Franco’s status.

The Rays filled Franco’s spot on their 40-man roster with infielder Niko Goodrum, who was officially acquired Thursday in a trade with the Twins before being optioned to Triple-A Durham. Rays manager Kevin Cash declined to comment on Franco’s status before the club’s workout at Tropicana Field on Wednesday but said, “I’m sure there will be some news coming.” The club did not comment on Franco’s status.

Placement on administrative leave is not considered punitive. Under the Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy collectively bargained by MLB and the MLBPA, players on administrative leave continue to receive their salary and Major League service while they are removed from the roster. The club continued to pay Franco his $2 million salary last season, part of the 11-year, $182 million guaranteed extension he signed following the 2021 season.