Oakland Athletics executives and others met Sunday with Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray to negotiate with hopes of persuading him to play professional baseball, according to multiple reports. ESPN reports the Athletics are permitted to sign Murray to a major league deal with significant guaranteed money, despite MLB rules that prevent players from signing major league contracts out of the draft. Per the report, such a deal would be allowed because of how the circumstances of Murray's baseball career have changed since he was drafted ninth overall by the A's in June.
Murray signed a minor league deal including a $4.66 million signing bonus after being drafted by Oakland, but his stellar 2018 season as a quarterback at Oklahoma thrust him into contention to be a first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Now the A's -- and MLB -- are working to keep him from ditching baseball for the NFL. WFAA-TV in Dallas reports Murray would like a $15 million contract to commit to baseball. It's unclear what the Athletics are willing to offer. USA Today reported A's president Billy Beane led the contingent to meet with Murray, while ESPN added the group included an MLB marketing executive.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported Wednesday that the A's expect Murray to declare for the NFL draft before Monday's deadline for underclassmen to declare. Such a declaration would not prevent Murray from later agreeing to a deal and to commit to the A's. The deadline for Murray's decision between the two sports could come in February, as A's position players report for spring training Feb. 15, while the NFL combine is in late February. ESPN reports that if Murray does sign a major league deal, he would still likely begin his baseball career at High-A Stockton. The report adds that the A's plan to promote Murray aggressively, but he would need to join the team full-time by 2022 at the latest, based on his contract.
(With inputs from agencies.)