Wander Franco, an All-Star shortstop for the Tampa Bay Rays, sat out of his team’s game on Sunday, and the Rays said Major League Baseball was investigating “social media posts” about him.
Franco was in the dugout for the first part of Sunday afternoon’s home game against the Cleveland Guardians, then left. The Rays lost, 9-2.
“During today’s game, we were made aware of the social media posts that are circulating regarding Wander Franco,” the Rays said in a statement Sunday. “We take the situation seriously, and are in close contact with Major League Baseball as it conducts its due diligence.”
Manager Kevin Cash said after the game that it was “just a day off.”
“I’m aware of the speculation,” he continued. “I’m not going to comment any further on that. But the day off was because — a day off.”
MLB.com, The Athletic and The Tampa Bay Times were among those that reported the incident was related to social media posts that accused Franco of an inappropriate sexual relationship.
Franco, 22, is in his third season with the Rays and was an All-Star for the first time this season. He is hitting .281 with 17 home runs and 30 stolen bases.
He was benched for two games in June for unspecified disciplinary reasons. “Over the course of this season, there’s been probably multiple times that the way he has handled his frustrations have not been the way that we ask our players to uphold being the best teammate,” Cash said at the time.
In 2021, the Rays invested heavily in his future, signing him to an 11-year, $182 million contract, which was the richest deal ever for a player with less than one year in the majors.
After a hot start to this season, the Rays sit in second in the American League East, three games behind the Baltimore Orioles, but are in strong position for one of the A.L.’s three wild cards.