The Oakland A’s knew that Kyler Murray could choose to play football. The A’s didn’t expect the decision to come so quickly.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the A’s were “caught . . . off-guard” by the timing of Murray’s announcement.
According to Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz of USA Today, A’s G.M. Billy Beane addressed Murray’s status earlier on Monday, before Murray made his announcement on social media.
“Things have certainly changed since the [2018 baseball] draft, given his amazing football season,” Beane said. “It’s based on a historic college football season this young man had. To not recognize that would be somewhat foolish. . . . He’s a Heisman Trophy winner. He’s projected to be an early pick. We’ve had ongoing conversations as it relates to the conversation and to Kyler’s future. Period. Not just with baseball but potentially with other sports.”
According to Jeff Passan of ESPN.com, Murray will repay $1.29 million of the $1.5 million he previously received in the form of a signing bonus from the A’s. Murray forfeits the remaining $3.16 million, and the A’s will continue to hold his rights.
That last part is significant. No matter what Murray says about being all-in with football, he continues to have an escape hatch to baseball, if he’s not drafted high enough or if he’s drafted by a team for which he doesn’t want to play. Murray made it clear during a visit to PFT Live before the Super Bowl that he won’t use the threat of playing baseball as leverage to be drafted at a certain level or by a certain team or teams. However, nothing prevents him from deciding after the dust settles that, while he’s committed to football, football apparently isn’t committed to him.