‘Minor sex scandal’ 244.4 billion privilege ML permanently banned? ‘CY winner + ML save king’?

Major League Baseball ‘superstar 먹튀검증‘ Wander Franco (Tampa Bay Rays) could be heading to the Nippon Professional Baseball, or KBO, league. Given his current situation, he could be following a similar path to other players who have been effectively banned from the big leagues for past misdemeanours.

Franco was one of Major League Baseball’s “breakout stars,” garnering so much attention that he was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the game before being called up to the big leagues. Franco hit .351 with 11 home runs and a 1.005 OPS in 61 games in the Rookie League in 2018, and then absolutely blew up the minors in early 2021, hitting .313 with seven home runs and a .955 OPS in 40 games at Triple-A.

A highly anticipated call-up to the big leagues for the first time in 2021, Franco showed off his talents with 81 hits, seven home runs, and a .288 OPS of .810 in 70 games, earning him a massive 11-year, $182 million contract with Tampa Bay ahead of the 2022 season. The size of Franco’s extension may not seem like much given the recent spate of “jackpot deals” in free agency, but considering Tampa Bay is a “small market,” it was a huge deal.

Franco was a step down from his rookie campaign in 2022, hitting .277 with six homers and a .745 OPS in 83 games, but he was well on his way to a “career-high” season this year, hitting .281 with 17 homers, 58 RBI, 65 runs scored and a .819 OPS in 112 games, and he was on his way back to living up to the “super-prospect” label. However, Franco’s major league career may end here.

Tampa Bay Rays’ Wander Franco./Getty Images Korea

After the 2021 season, Franco, who is married and has two children together, was charged with sexual offences against a minor. Rumours of Franco’s inappropriate relationships with minors have been circulating on social media, and a 17-year-old Dominican girl has filed charges against him. In addition, multiple U.S. media outlets have reported that Franco had inappropriate relationships with more than one minor.

Franco is being investigated by prosecutors in the Dominican Republic after stories of inappropriate relationships with minors surfaced, and he hasn’t played since the Cleveland Cavaliers game on the 13th of this month. In the worst case scenario, he could be banned from playing in the major leagues.

Hector Gomez of the Dominican Republic’s ‘Z101 Digital’ reported on the 18th that, “According to a person close to the investigation of Franco’s case, it is not unreasonable to think that Franco will never play in the major leagues again, given the current state of the investigation. If he is ultimately convicted, it could set a huge precedent in Major League Baseball history.”

While Franco is undoubtedly an “elite prospect” with a huge contract, it is very possible that he will never play in the big leagues again. That’s because Major League Baseball’s governing body can discipline players for domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse on the basis of an “allegation,” even if Franco is not found guilty.

Trevor Bauer, Yokohama DeNA BayStars./Yokohama DeNA BayStars SNS

Roberto Osuna with the Houston Astros./Getty Images Korea

Edison Russell with the Kiwoom Heroes

Yasiel Puig with the Kiwoom Heroes./Getty Images Korea

Of course, it’s highly unlikely that Major League Baseball’s Office of the Commissioner will remove Franco’s eligibility, but if they do, Tampa Bay could consider terminating his contract. For example, the San Diego Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr. was talked about being released after the 2021 season when he suffered a fractured wrist in a motorcycle accident and was also caught using banned substances.

In recent years, Major League Baseball and its teams have taken a very strict stance on domestic violence, sexual offences, and crimes against children. Most notably, Trevor Bauer (Yokohama DeNA Basestars), who won the National League Cy Young Award in the 2020 season, was at the centre of sexual misconduct allegations during the 2021 season and was released by the Los Angeles Dodgers despite being found “not guilty” due to insufficient evidence. The same can be said for alleged sexual assailant Yasiel Puig (Kiwoom Heroes), while Edison Russell (Kiwoom) and former Major League Baseball ‘save king’ Roberto Osuna (SoftBank Hawks) also lost their jobs due to domestic violence.

Franco is under contract for 11 years and $182 million after the 2021 season, but he will not be paid the remainder of his salary if he is released for misconduct. With a salary of $2.454 million this season, he’s not at the point where he needs to play for a living, so his only options are Nippon Professional Baseball and the KBO.

The aforementioned Bauer and Osuna have both joined Nippon Professional Baseball after being effectively cut from the major leagues, while Puig and Russell are currently out of South Korea, but have joined the KBO’s Kiwoom Heroes after having major issues with their status in the United States. Of course, all of this is only a ‘possibility’ if Franco is found ‘not guilty’. If he is found guilty, it would be morally untenable to embrace him.

Currently, Franco denies all charges related to child offences. However, the odds are in favour of a conviction. Franco, who has been called the best prospect in Major League Baseball and has an unimaginably large contract, is in danger of having it all blown up in his face.

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