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Kyler Murray Would Be Foolish to Burn Easier NFL Riches for High-Risk MLB Future | Bleacher Report



 FILE - In this June 15, 2018 file photo, Oakland Athletics draft pick Kyler Murray looks at before a baseball game between the Athletics and the Los Angeles Angels in Oakland, Calif. Representatives of the Athletics and Major League Baseball with Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019, with Heisman Trophy winner Murray, a day before the Oklahoma quarterback's deadline to enter the NFL draft, a person with direct knowledge of the session said. (AP Photo / Jeff Chiu, File)

Jeff Chiu / Associated Press

Kyler Murray has been fooled

Murray was drafted into Major League Baseball in June by the Oakland Athletics, who selected him as an outfielder with the no. 9 pick and promptly signed him to a $ 4.7 million bonus.

Since then, the 21

-year-old has kept himself busy by playing quarterback well enough for the Oklahoma Sooners to become the program's second consecutive Heisman Trophy winner. That started a big decision of whether he should declare for the National Football League draft by Monday's deadline.

Kyler Murray @ TheKylerMurray

As MLB.com's Jane Lee noted, Murray's decision was merely a procedural move.

He's still under contract with the A's. Things will get interesting in February, where the A's open spring training on the 15th and the NFL combines starts on the 26th. Because Murray would have to give back his signing bonus if he spurns.

Though MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reported The A's and MLBs are going to get out of the way for an NFL career as a no-brainer as no-brainers.

It's not that Murray's some slouch as a baseball player. He was a top-10 pick, after all, and he draws comparisons to some of the greatest talents in the sports history.

"The big one is Rickey Henderson," said Murray himself in reference to the Hall of Famer and all -time steals leader, per Lee. "I've watched a lot of his movie. Great player, great legend, obviously, but I'm pretty confident in my own skills." According to Joel Anderson and Jake Trotter of ESPN.com, one MLB executive went with a current superstar who won two American League MVPs: "[Murray’s] that type of freak athlete, where the fact that he had a stunted development and didn't play for a couple of years might not matter. That's like Mike Trout type athletic. "

 ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 25: Mike Trout # 27 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim looks at the game against the Texas Rangers at Angel Stadium on September 25, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images

Per MLB.com, Murray's hit, power, speed and fielding tools rate as average or better. Ironically, the one that makes the grade is his arm. But as evidenced by Trout, one need not have a rocket arm to become a superstar center fielder as everything else checks out.

But now for the catch: Murray's baseball talent is raw.

He played baseball well enough in high school that he might have been a first-round pick in the 2015 draft had not opted out of it to pursue a two-sport career at Texas A&M. But after moving to Oklahoma later that year, he missed the 2016 baseball season. A year later, just played 27 games with only 49 batches for the Sooners.

Though Murray rescued his stock last by slashing .296 / .398 / .556 with 10 home runs and 10 steals in 51 games, his rawness manifested in a 25.1 percent strikeout rate. A player like this is more high-ceiling than high-floor. That means the A's couldn't skimp on minor league development time for Murray, which in turn means he was probably looking at a 2021 ETA for his major league debut.

Murray would only be called to the major league minimum ( $ 555,000) through 2023 or 2024. Only after that would start earning bigger paydays via arbitration, but there would be three years of that before (perhaps) bigger free-agent payday after 2026 or 2027. He'd be 30 years old in the laugh season.

Last week, ESPN's Adam Schefter (via NFL reporter Dov Kleiman) floated the possibility that Murray could go as high as no. 1 overall to the Arizona Cardinals in April's NFL draft:

It's not just who has suggested Murray is worthy of the No. 1 pick. Former Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury gift Murray that much credit in October. This same Kingsbury is now the Cardinals head coach.

If he's not the No. 1 overall selection, the sense Bleacher Report's Matt Miller got from 10 NFL scouts and executives is that Murray is a "lock" for the first round. Based on the numbers he just put up — 4,361 yards and 42 touchdowns and 1,001 yards and 12 touchdowns rushing — that's reasonable.

At either end of the first round, Murray would be in line for better money than he got from the A's. To wit, Murray's former Oklahoma teammate Baker Mayfield collected a $ 21.9 million signing bonus and $ 32.7 million overall as the No. 1 pick by the Cleveland Browns last year. Even all the way down at no. 32, Lamar Jackson got a $ 5.0 million bonus and $ 9.5 million total from the Baltimore Ravens

 BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - DECEMBER 30: Quarterback Lamar Jackson # 8 of the Baltimore Ravens hugs quarterback Baker Mayfield # 6 of the Cleveland Browns after the Baltimore Ravens 26-24 win over Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium on December 30, 2018 in Balti

Patrick Smith / Getty Images

Neither of them had to wait long to start. Chances are Murray wouldn't have to either. And because it's easier than ever for quarterbacks to succeed in the NFL — Kevin Clark or The Ringer has more on that — Murray could also quickly follow Mayfield's and Jackson's early stardom paths.

It would soon be time for Murray to get paid. even more. If his contract resembled Mayfield's and Jackson's — four years with a fifth option — he would likely become a free agent after the 2023 season. If he had signed a big deal before, that would be his path to one.

With football, there is the obvious concern of serious injury ruining everything during or after Murray's career. But quarterback has always been a relatively safe position, and the NFL has been going to extremes to make it even safer.

Murray is thus in the best position possible for a long career in the NFL, and he could earn far more than he could have been an MLB outfielder. Here's JJ Cooper or Baseball America with a helpful breakdown:

In the face of this, all the A's in the next few weeks are trying to get Murray with more money up front. To this end, WFAA's Mike Leslie reported Murray's magic number is $ 15 million

That's not accurate, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle . But in light of what he could earn via the NFL draft, $ 15 million might actually be a conservative estimate of what it would take for A's to sway Murray. If you have any extra money you could have come in the form of a major league contract and a spot on their 40-man roster.

Even then, though, Murray's timeline wouldn't necessarily be accelerated. 19659004] The only real stipulation (h / t Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times ) is that he would have been with the A's on a full-time basis at 2022, when he'd be in the last of four minor league options years. He'd still have to prove himself in the minors beforehand, and he'd still be six or seven years from free agency upon joining the A's.

To boot, baseball free agency could disappoint Murray. Big bucks have become scarce enough on the last two free-agent markets to raise concerns about a possible work stoppage in the near future. Perhaps the crisis will be resolved when MLB and the MLB Players Association negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement to replace the one that expires in 2021. Then again, perhaps it won't.

If Murray does end up choosing football, MLB will have some serious soul-searching to do about it.

The NFL, meanwhile, should be more than happy to have Murray if he goes through its door. Football is what he does best, so he could be worth more than the sport sent his way.

Stats courtesy of D1Baseball.com and Sports Reference. Contract data courtesy of Spotrac.


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