Any hopes of the Las Vegas Aviators providing the first baseball home for two-sport star Kyler Murray were dashed Monday when he announced he would pursue a career in the NFL.
Murray could become a member of the Raiders, who own the fourth pick in April’s NFL Draft, before he ever picks up a baseball bat for the Oakland Athletics organization.
The Heisman Trophy winner was the ninth overall pick in last June’s baseball amateur draft, and the outfielder agreed to a minor league contract with Oakland for a $4.66 million signing bonus. He is a football quarterback is eligible for this year’s NFL draft, which starts April 25.
— Kyler Murray (@TheKylerMurray) February 11, 2019
“I am firmly and fully committing my life and time to becoming an NFL quarterback,” Murray tweeted Monday. “Football has been my love and passion my entire life. I was raised to play QB, and I very much look forward to dedicating 100 percent of myself to being the best QB possible and winning NFL championships. I have started an extensive training program to further prepare myself for upcoming workouts and interviews. I eagerly await the opportunity to continue to prove to NFL decision makers that I am the franchise QB in this draft.”
The Athletics, which started spring training workouts in Mesa, Arizona, on Monday, had a locker with a No. 73 jersey waiting for him.
“Things have certainly changed since the draft,” Billy Beane, Oakland’s executive vice president of baseball operations, said before the announcement. “The situation is fluid right now and based on a historic college football season that the young man had.”
It’s unclear where Murray would have been assigned had he picked baseball and reported to spring training this week. If the A’s wanted to give him incentive to report, they might have started him in the high minor leagues, which includes top affiliate Triple-A Aviators.
Murray’s baseball deal called for him to receive $1.5 million within 30 days of the deal’s approval last summer by Major League Baseball and $3.16 million on March 1.
Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders played both football and baseball, but Jackson was a running back and Sanders a cornerback.
“Quarterback is a very demanding position, as is being a Major League baseball player,” Beane said. “To say somebody could or couldn’t, I’m not here to say that. Something like that is something that is part of our private discussions.”
Added A’s manager Bob Melvin: “He’s one of those rare athletes, who I think any sport that he played, he’d probably excel at.”
Murray passed for 4,361 yards and 42 touchdowns for Oklahoma last season. He ran for 1,001 yards and another 12 scores, posting the second-best passer efficiency rating in FBS history.
“Obviously the fact that he would want to play quarterback, if he chooses the football route, is a little different than Deion or Bo or some of those guys,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said in November. “But he athletically is so gifted and can transition between the two.”
Would the A’s have handled MLB Draft differently had they known Murray would be a top NFL prospect?
“If I can get do-overs, can I maybe invest in Apple stock 30 years ago as my first choice? ” Beane said. “I don’t get do-overs.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.