Report: Dominican authorities searching for Wander Franco

League: MLB

Posted on: 27 Dec, 2023 at 04:27 AM

Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Authorities in the Dominican Republic conducted a pair of searches Tuesday looking for Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco but were unable to find him, according to Dominican newspaper Listin Diario.

Per the report, authorities believe Franco had a relationship with a minor in Puerto Plata, a coastal city 130 miles north of Santo Domingo.

The report stated members of the Santo Domingo Children's and Adolescents Prosecutor's Office first arrived at Franco's "maternal home" in the city of Bani, then went to Franco's home in Villa Real, about 55 miles south.

Franco, 22, was not at either residence.

The report did not state whether Franco was considered a fugitive or if authorities would continue searching for him but did state it would be typical for authorities to leave a contact number with Franco's wife so he could contact them.

Dominican-based MLB reporter Hector Gomez posted on X (formerly Twitter) on Tuesday: "New evidence has been found in the case of Wander Franco that further implicates him in the accusations that have been made against him of alleged relationships with minors."

The Rays placed Franco on the restricted list Aug. 14 and then on paid administrative leave on Aug. 22 as MLB launched an investigation into social media posts indicating Franco was involved in an inappropriate relationship with a minor.

Franco since was moved to Tampa Bay's active roster, but only because administrative leave is unavailable during the offseason. He could be placed back on administrative leave when spring training begins.

Franco, who was first called up in 2021 as one of the most hyped prospects in recent years, played a career-high 112 games and was an All-Star for the first time in 2023. He set career highs in virtually all statistical categories, including home runs (17), RBIs (58), stolen bases (30) and runs (65) while batting .281 with a .344 on-base percentage and a .475 slugging percentage.

--Field Level Media