메이저사이트 Correspondent Lee Sang-hee] Have we reached the conclusion that it’s all over? The Tampa Bay Rays have taken a ‘stop-loss’ position on Wander Franco, 22, the ‘genius shortstop’ caught up in the worst scandal of his career. There are reports that the player, who signed a contract worth up to 300 billion won, will no longer be able to play in the major leagues.
“Tampa Bay is removing Franco’s image from the team’s commercials and highlight videos on TV and elsewhere,” the New York Post reported on 21 January.
“Velisports, which broadcasts all of Tampa Bay’s games, has already removed Franco’s image from various highlight videos,” the media continued, adding, “This is unprecedented while the Major League Baseball commissioner’s investigation is not yet complete. The situation seems to be very serious.”
Hector Gomez, a journalist from the Dominican Republic who is familiar with the situation, also said on social media that it is unlikely that Franco will ever play in the major leagues again. “This is the same person who broke the news of Franco’s extension for 2021,” Gomez said, adding credibility to the report.
Earlier, the Tampa Bay Times reported on the 14th that “Major League Baseball and the Tampa Bay Rays are investigating allegations about Franco that have been circulating on social media”. The same day, a social media channel reported that “the allegations came to light after Franco had sex with a 14-year-old girl and then failed to pay her the money he promised her to keep quiet.
Franco striking out. /AFPBBNews=News1
Franco in defence. /AFPBBNews=News1
A native of the Dominican Republic, Franco broke into the big leagues in 2021 as a 20-year-old on “terms” and hit .288 with seven home runs and 39 RBIs in 70 games in his first year. He signed a mega-contract with Tampa Bay that winter, worth $182 million over 11 years and a maximum total of $223 million over 12 years with a club option. After hitting just six home runs in 83 games last year, he has played in 112 games this season, batting .281 with 17 home runs and 58 RBIs.
However, he has shown some character issues, getting into altercations with teammates during games earlier this year when he couldn’t control his temper, and when he wasn’t performing to his satisfaction at the plate, he would return to the dugout and slam his bat or throw his equipment, behaviours that were detrimental to his teammates.
The Tampa Bay organization has tried to improve Franco’s behaviour in the past, using lineup exclusions and discipline, but this latest scandal involving sex with a minor has the potential to be devastating. “Franco’s contract with Tampa Bay could be cancelled if he is found to have had sex with a 14-year-old girl,” according to ESPN and other local media outlets.
Franco has not played since the 13th of this month against Cleveland. Tampa Bay placed Franco on the restricted list on 15 May and recalled shortstop Oslevis Vasave, 23, from Triple-A to fill his spot.
Article courtesy StarNews