The Oakland A’s took Oklahoma quarterback and outfielder Kyler Murray with the ninth pick in the MLB Draft last week. Murray’s response was sure to have long-term effects on Oakland and OU baseball, but a bigger immediate impact on Sooners football. For 2018 at least, Murray will be a Sooner.
Kyler Murray on a conference call with Oakland A's writers: "I will be playing football this season."— Ralph D. Russo (@ralphDrussoAP) June 5, 2018
Statement from head coach Lincoln Riley on Kyler Murray: pic.twitter.com/j4Mhl1qgWP— Oklahoma Football (@OU_Football) June 5, 2018
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Murray will be signing a deal with the A’s that will include him forgoing his final season with OU in 2019:
As part of the agreement, Murray will play just one more year of football at Oklahoma, one source said. Murray, who is projected to be Baker Mayfield’s successor at quarterback, has two years of football eligibility left, but by signing with Oakland, he will forgo his final year at Oklahoma. He will report to the A’s complex in Mesa, Ariz., next spring to begin his fulltime baseball career.
Murray, 20, signed for right around the draft-slot value for the ninth overall pick, at about $4.6 million.
In 2010, Clemson quarterback and Rockies first-round pick Kyle Parker signed a deal that let him play quarterback the following fall before joining the Rockies’ system. Such arrangements aren’t common, but neither are players in Murray’s situation.
If Murray were to sign with the A’s to play right now, it’s likely he’d get a signing bonus around $4.7 million, MLB’s slot signing value for that pick. On Wednesday night, it was reported that Murray had reached a $5 million deal with the A’s that would allow him to play football for the Sooners this fall.
As OU’s QB, Murray might have a huge year in 2018.
He’s a former five-star recruit who transferred after one year at Texas A&M and sat behind Baker Mayfield for two seasons. He was OU’s primary backup to the Heisman winner in 2017, the first year he was eligible. The Sooners’ offense can surround him with blue-chip talent all over the field.
A redshirt junior, Murray is technically in a QB competition with redshirt sophomore Austin Kendall. But everyone from Oklahoma’s fans to media members to oddsmakers expects Murray to start. He has the seventh-best preseason Heisman odds in the country. He also beat out Kendall, a former four-star, for the top backup job last year.
Aside from this season, Murray has chosen baseball over football for his future.
Oklahoma State quarterback Josh Fields became a 2004 first-round pick by the White Sox as an infielder. Fields decided to turn pro in baseball and forgo his last season of eligibility with OSU football. In an interview, he explained his thought process to SB Nation.
According to Fields, there’s a lot to think about. But the first thing to know is that all of them might fall short of whatever’s in the player’s heart: Does he love baseball or football more?
“I know that it kind of probably seems stereotypical of a quote to say,” Fields said. “It really did kind of come down to my first love and stuff like that. It really did, ‘cause all those other factors, you can get over.”
Money is a big factor, as always.
Baseball provides some up-front financial security by way of a signing bonus. Murray would have to play for minimum wage for a few seasons in the minor leagues. But he’d have to play for a scholarship and some living expenses if he stayed at Oklahoma.
“In the minor leagues, you are not bringing home a lot,” Fields, whose White Sox bonus was a reported $1.55 million, said. “You are playing to accomplish your goals and dreams of playing in the major leagues, where hopefully you will finally be compensated well.”
Murray’s decision makes sense. His NFL upside wasn‘t exactly clear.
He’s a sub-6-foot quarterback who hasn’t had extended game action in the last three years. He could have a brilliant year or two as Oklahoma’s quarterback and get drafted early, maybe. We are weeks removed from a short Oklahoma transfer QB going first overall to the Browns. But it’s hard to bank on Murray having any kind of NFL career until he’s put a season of game tape on the record.
“On the collegiate level, Murray could have more success on the football field, but looking forward, his strengths might be better suited on the diamond,” says OU blog Crimson and Cream Machine.
All sports carry a level of danger, but baseball carries much less than football.
Fields recalled being OSU teammates with defensive tackle Kevin Williams, a future 300-pound Pro Bowler.
“You start thinking about things like that logically, and you’re like, ‘One body’s gonna give, and it’s probably not gonna be his,’” Fields said. “That was kind of a major concern, too.”
Congrats to Murray, who is fortunate to have had two pretty solid options on the table for his athletic career.