ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — All-Star shortstop Wander Franco and the Tampa Bay Rays have “mutually agreed” that the 22-year-old will go on the restricted list while Major League Baseball looks into social media posts involving the player.
The club made the announcement Monday in the wake of social media posts that began circulating over the weekend. The Rays did not detail the nature of the social media posts.
MLB has launched an investigation, a person familiar with the probe told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because no announcement was made.
Franco did not play in Sunday’s home series finale against Cleveland at Tropicana Field and did not accompany the Rays to San Francisco for the start of a six-game road trip that begins Monday night against the Giants.
“The Tampa Bay Rays and Wander Franco have mutually agreed that he will go on the Restricted List and take leave from the club for the duration of the current road trip,” the team said in a one-sentence statement.
The road trip, which includes three games against the Giants and three against the Los Angeles Angels, ends next Sunday. The Rays return home to face Colorado on Aug. 22.
“We support any steps taken by the league to better understand the situation,” the club said of the MLB investigation. “Out of respect for all parties involved, we have no further comments at this time.”
Franco is hitting .281 with 17 homers and 58 RBIs this season.
One of Tampa Bay’s top prospects, Osleivis Basabe, started at shortstop on Sunday in the 22-year-old’s major league debut.
Franco sat on the bench in the Rays’ dugout during a portion of Sunday’s game, leaving in the fifth inning.
After the game, Rays manager Kevin Cash was asked whether there was any issue with Franco not playing other than a regular day off. Cash replied: “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 benched for two games in late June for how he has responded to frustrating situations and — in Cash’s words at the time — not being the best teammate at times.
Tampa Bay signed Franco to an $182 million, 11-year contract in November 2021, a deal with a team option for 2033 that could be worth $223 million.