No one really questioned why Wander Franco was not in the Tampa Bay Rays lineup on Sunday. He had played in every game since June 24 and could have simply needed a day off.
Instead, Franco’s life may be turned upside down. An Instagram post from Saturday outed Franco as having dated a 14 year old when he was 22 years old at the time. As the age of consent in both Florida and the Dominican Republic is 18 years old, Franco would appear to be in a lot of trouble.
The other side of the story for Wander Franco and the Tampa Bay Rays
But there may be more to the story than there appears. Sources indicate that she had apparently told Franco that she was 18, something that he had no reason to disbelieve. When he found out that she was actually 14, he ended the relationship and moved away from the family. They, in turn, demanded $200,000 and a Mercedes, or that Franco marry her, or the relationship would go public.
Clearly, there is a lot more that needs to be determined. While Franco, or anyone for that matter, cannot be expected to card anyone interested in them, it is fair to wonder when he knew about her real age. An investigation into him, and the allegations that his ex had lied and later attempted to extort money, will need to be conducted. It would not be a surprise to see Franco on the bench, or placed on leave by the league, in the meantime.
Whatever Major League Baseball has in mind may be the least of Franco’s concerns. He would be in legal hot water as well, especially given the age of consent in those areas. It is also another red flag for a player that the Rays had hoped to build their roster around. He was benched earlier in the year for being a bad teammate; now there have to be questions as to whether or not there is more than immaturity to worry about.
For their part, the Rays are not commenting. Manager Kevin Cash said that Franco not being in the lineup was just a routine day off. There was nothing about those allegations or any investigation. To be fair, it is not like the team could comment until they knew definitely what is happening. The truth, in one way or another, will come out.
The Tampa Bay Rays may be without Wander Franco for some time. The current allegations against him need to be verified first.