Rays’ Wander Franco placed on MLB restricted list after human trafficking allegations

Rays’ Wander Franco placed on MLB restricted list after human trafficking allegations

Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco, who faces up to 20 years in prison for human trafficking, was officially placed on MLB’s restricted list Wednesday.

He will no longer be paid or receive service time.

Franco, who was previously on administrative leave until charges were filed, has been formally charged by Dominican Republic prosecutors with sexual abuse and exploitation of a minor and human trafficking.

“Serious allegations,” Rays manager Kevin Cash told reporters Wednesday. “It’s very concerning.”

The Rays, after being informed of the charges Tuesday night, requested Wednesday that he be placed on the restricted list rather than the administrative list because he is prohibited from playing. Franco was receiving $2.454 million in the third year of an 11-year, $182 million contract.

Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco has been placed on the MLB restricted list.Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco has been placed on the MLB restricted list.

Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco has been placed on the MLB restricted list.

Franco faces a prison sentence of two to five years for sexual abuse and five to 10 years for sexual exploitation, while the human trafficking charges carry a sentence of 15 to 20 years. If Franco is convicted on multiple counts, he will be sentenced to the crime that carries the longest prison sentence, according to Dominican law.

Franco is accused of having a relationship with a then-14-year-old girl that began in December 2022, when Franco was 21. Franco had previously denied all allegations, which surfaced on social media on August 13, 2023.

In January, prosecutors presented a nearly 600-page report to a judge, which included details of the alleged sexual relationship drawn from interviews and messages between Franco and the girl.

The report also claims that Franco allegedly paid the girl’s mother to continue the relationship. The mother has also been charged with trafficking, sexual exploitation and money laundering.

MLB will continue its own investigation into Franco after his legal status in the Dominican Republic is determined.

“We are aware of the allegations against Mr. Franco,” MLB said in a statement. “Our investigation remains open and we will continue to closely monitor the matter as it develops.”

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Wander Franco placed on restricted list after human trafficking charges