The Oakland Athletics -- led by president Billy Beane -- are meeting with Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray in hopes of persuading him to forgo the NFL and play professional baseball, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports.
The Oakland #Athletics have a contingent, led by president Billy Beane, meeting today with Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray in hopes of persuading him to forego the #NFL and play baseball for them. They drafted him 9th overall last summer and gave him a $4.66 million bonus.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) January 13, 2019
Jeff Passan of ESPN confirmed the report.
The Oakland A’s have a group of top executives en route to meet with Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray, sources tell ESPN. The goal: Convince him to stick with baseball as his football prospects seemingly grow stronger. His deadline to declare for the NFL Draft is Monday.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 13, 2019
As well, MLB is getting in on the act:
I’m told that MLB has sent some marketing folks to Dallas along with the A’s execs who are talking to Kyler Murray about his baseball future today.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) January 13, 2019
Murray was drafted by the Oakland Athletics with the No. 9 pick of the 2018 MLB Draft. He signed a $4.66 million signing bonus with his MLB contract and, up until recently, was planning to report to Arizona this spring to begin his professional baseball career.
Murray's upward-trending football stock has increased his leverage with the A's, and a reworking of his deal is likely on the table:
Murray has put himself in fantastic position. One way the A’s can convince him to keep playing baseball, of course, would be to give him another deal. (ie money)— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 13, 2019
And here are some reported specifics:
According to a source close to the situation, Kyler Murray’s number is $15M.— Mike Leslie (@MikeLeslieWFAA) January 13, 2019
He wants big time money to stick with baseball, otherwise he will enter the NFL draft tomorrow.
The A’s are doing everything they can, sending their top brass, led by Billy Beane, to meet with him.
During a meeting in Dallas today, the possibility of Oakland guaranteeing money in addition to Murray's $4.66 million signing bonus was raised, sources tell ESPN. To do so, Oakland would need to add Murray to its 40-man roster. He still could develop in the minor leagues.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 13, 2019
The upshot is that if Murray agrees to stick with baseball, then he's going to get more guaranteed money for his troubles (even if the reported $15 million is likely a reach). Here's how that would work:
In Kyler Murray talks, sources confirm #Athletics *are* permitted to give Murray additional money (and 40-man roster spot) as long as @MLB officials are satisfied that there was no agreement to do so in advance of his entry contract. Credit first to @JeffPassan and @BillShaikin.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) January 14, 2019
The most recent reports regarding Murray's decision were that he was leaning toward a football career, and planning to declare for the NFL Draft. The deadline to declare for the draft is Monday.
I continue to hear that the A’s expect Kyler Murray to declare for the draft and they have no issue with him doing so. There are, however, contractual details that would have to be hammered out should he be OK’d to go to the NFL combine/team workouts.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) January 13, 2019
MLB would have to sign off on any changes to Kyler Murray’s deal, however, and that might be a real sticking point.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) January 13, 2019
As the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Wednesday, NFL teams aren't keen on the idea of sharing their starting quarterback with another league. For Murray, it's going to be one sport or the other:
The Chronicle source said NFL teams would not want Murray to play baseball because of the steeper learning curve for a rookie quarterback and the everyday demands of the position.
So for the fans that were hoping to see this generation's version of Bo Jackson or Deion Sanders, it's just not going happen:
There is, however, no possibility that Murray could play both football and baseball in the same year. Multiple sources agreed Wednesday that the demands of learning and playing quarterback in the NFL would preclude Murray from playing professional baseball at the same time.
Should Murray go the NFL route rather than pursuing his career as an outfielder in the Athletics organization, the A's would get his signing bonus back, but they wouldn't receive a compensatory selection in the 2019 MLB Draft. The Athletics would still retain his baseball rights if he chose to return to baseball.
CBS Sports decided to lay out an argument for both sports. Here's the case for him to pursue baseball, and you can find our argument for football here.