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Major League Baseball placed Tampa Rays shortstop Wander Franco on administrative leave last week under the sport's joint policy on domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse while an investigation is conducted. 

The investigation was prompted by allegations of an inappropriate relationship leveled against Franco on social media. As well, the Associated Press on Aug. 15 reported that authorities in Franco's native Dominican Republic are investigating Franco for an alleged relationship with a minor. The report was confirmed by the office of the attorney general. Ángel Darío Tejeda Fabal, a prosecutor in the Dominican Republic province of Peravia, later told the AP that an investigation into Franco was open under a division specializing in minors and gender violence. 

Those other, much more pressing and important matters will be addressed in due time. On a procedural front, however, there may be questions about what administrative leave in MLB is and what the implications of it are. Below you will find answers to some of those questions. 

What is administrative leave in MLB?

It's a policy agreed upon by the league and the MLBPA (the players' union) and codified by the Collective Bargaining Agreement (also known as the CBA or Basic Agreement), which is the accord that governs the working relationship between players and clubs. 

Here's how the current 2022-26 CBA defines administrative leave: 

Under the Basic Agreement, the Commissioner may immediately place a Player accused of a Covered Act on Administrative Leave, effective as early as the date of the Notification, and may keep the Player on Administrative Leave for up to seven (7) days, including the date of Notification, subject to the Player's right to challenge that decision set forth below. The Commissioner's Office may ask the Players Association to consent to a one-time extension of the initial seven-day Administrative Leave period for an additional seven (7) days (for a total of fourteen (14) days), which consent shall not be unreasonably withheld. Alternatively, the Commissioner's Office may defer placing the Player on Administrative Leave until the Player is either charged with a crime by law enforcement, or the Commissioner's Office receives credible information corroborating the allegations. 

In plain terms, administrative leave in essence sidelines a player accused of violating the joint policy on domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse while MLB investigates those allegations. Of note is that these investigations are conducted outside of any legal proceedings, and MLB and commissioner Rob Manfred have the latitude to discipline players under the policy even in the absence of any criminal charges or conviction. 

Why was Franco placed on administrative leave?

Since Franco is alleged to have had a relationship with an underage individual, his case would appear fall under the "sexual assault" portion of the joint policy based on age-of-consent considerations. Turning back to the CBA, here's how the document defines that particular portion: 

"Sexual assault refers to a range of behaviors, including a completed nonconsensual sex act, an attempted nonconsensual sex act, and/or nonconsensual sexual contact. Lack of consent is inferred when a person uses force, harassment, threat of force, threat of adverse personnel or disciplinary action, or other coercion, or when the victim is asleep, incapacitated, unconscious or legally incapable of consent."

Emphasis added. 

Is administrative leave a form of punishment?

It is not, and the CBA expressly says, "Administrative Leave shall not be considered disciplinary under this Policy." Rather, it is a means to foment investigation while removing the player from the roster and also making that player available to be interviewed by investigators during the process. The player continues to receive his regular salary and accrue service time while on administrative leave. A player on administrative leave is also free to appeal for reinstatement via arbitration panel. Here are the CBA's criteria for reinstatement under such circumstances: 

"The Arbitration Panel shall remove the Player from Administrative Leave if it determines that (a) the allegations that the Player engaged in a Covered Act are not supported by credible information, or (b) that allowing the Player to remain active during the Commissioner's Office's investigation is consistent with the safety of the victim(s) and will not cause significant disruption to the Player's Club."

In Franco's case, he has not at this juncture appealed his leave.  

Why is Franco also on the restricted list?

The restricted list has multiple functions, but in the instance of administrative leave it's merely a means to create roster space for the investigated player's team. While on administrative leave, the player is no longer on the active or 40-man rosters. Placement on the restricted list is automatic when a player goes on administrative leave. In Franco's case, he and the Rays agreed to restricted-list placement prior to his being put on administrative leave. 

How long will he be on leave?

That's uncertain at this juncture and hinges on how long the investigative process takes. Typically, administrative leave extensions require MLBPA consent at regular junctions. However, in this instance an open-ended timeline appears to have been agreed upon in advance. Note the wording of MLB's statement when Franco's administrative leave was announced: 

"Per an agreement between MLB and the MLBPA, Wander Franco has been placed on Administrative Leave until further notice as MLB continues its ongoing investigation."

Emphasis added. 

Once the investigation is concluded, MLB and Manfred in broad terms typically have one of three options: discipline the player in keeping with the CBA, reinstate the player without punishment, or defer a disciplinary decision until possible criminal or civil legal proceedings play out. 

How long it takes to reach that point depends on the pace of the investigation. In the recent case of former MLB pitcher Trevor Bauer, he was placed on administrative leave on July 2, 2021, and it wasn't until late April of 2022 that MLB handed down a 324-game suspension for sexual misconduct, which was reduced on appeal to 194 games.

Depending upon the nature of the investigation and the logistical challenges involved, it could be some time before there's any resolution of Franco's case.