A’s plan ‘cre­ative’ ap­proach to Mur­ray

1st-round pick has NFL op­tion at his dis­posal

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - SPORTING GREEN - By Su­san Slusser

A meet­ing Sun­day in Dal­las might de­ter­mine Kyler Mur­ray’s sports fu­ture.

A’s executives, joined by mar­ket­ing per­son­nel from Ma­jor League Base­ball, were sched­uled to sit down with Mur­ray to dis­cuss op­tions that might keep the Heis­man Tro­phy win­ner on the di­a­mond.

Dal­las TV sta­tion WFAA re­ported Sun­day that Mur­ray’s price tag to forgo the NFL draft is $15 mil­lion, but a source with knowl­edge of the sit­u­a­tion told The Chron­i­cle that there was no such de­mand and that the sides are work­ing on “some­thing cre­ative.”

An­other source told The Chron­i­cle that the A’s would like to place Mur­ray on their 40-man ros­ter and sign him to a ma­jor-league deal in or­der to pro­vide him more com­pen­sa­tion than the $4.66 mil­lion sign­ing bonus he re­ceived in June.

Any al­ter­ations to Mur­ray’s agree­ment with the A’s would re­quire MLB’s ap­proval, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing that there are strict rules gov­ern­ing how much money teams may spend in the June draft. A player of Mur­ray’s stature, how­ever, might be valu­able enough from a pub­lic­ity stand­point for the league to sweeten the deal. The pres­ence of MLB mar­ket­ing of­fi­cials at Sun­day’s meet­ing might point to ad­di­tional sources of in­come for Mur­ray in the form of en­dorse­ments or other op­por­tu­ni­ties out­side of his con­tract with Oak­land.

As The Chron­i­cle pre­vi­ously re­ported, Oak­land of­fi­cials ex­pect Mur­ray to de­clare for

the NFL draft by Mon­day’s dead­line. Oak­land se­lected the Ok­la­homa out­fielder and quar­ter­back with the ninth pick over­all in June’s ma­jor­league draft and his deal re­quires him to re­port to spring train­ing Feb. 15 af­ter he re­ceived a non­roster in­vite to big-league camp.

The Chron­i­cle re­ported Wed­nes­day that the A’s were con­sid­er­ing al­low­ing Mur­ray to at­tend the NFL com­bine next month, but such a move would re­quire re­con­fig­ur­ing his con­tract and would re­quire MLB ap­proval, which is not a given. One source told The Chron­i­cle on Sun­day that it’s far more likely that Mur­ray sim­ply will have to choose be­tween foot­ball and base­ball be­fore spring train­ing be­gins.

Mur­ray, 21, is listed at 5foot-10 but stands closer to 5-foot-9 — small for an NFL quar­ter­back. NFL an­a­lysts don’t agree on where he might be drafted, with es­ti­mates rang­ing from high in the first round to all the way to the third round.

Af­ter Oak­land drafted him in June, Mur­ray said the com­par­i­son he hears most of­ten on the base­ball field is with A’s Hall of Fame out­fielder Rickey Hen­der­son. Many eval­u­a­tors be­lieve that once his fo­cus is en­tirely on base­ball, Mur­ray could be an All-Star.

Should Mur­ray de­cide to jump to the NFL, he would have to re­pay his sign­ing bonus, but the A’s will not re­ceive a com­pen­sa­tion in this June’s draft. Oak­land re­tains Mur­ray’s base­ball rights, and it’s en­tirely pos­si­ble that, even if he is drafted by an NFL team, he might wind up play­ing for the A’s down the line and, depend­ing on in which round he’s drafted, per­haps sooner than later.

Jeff Chiu / As­so­ci­ated Press 2018

A’s first-round draft pick Kyler Mur­ray won the Heis­man Tro­phy and could opt for an NFL ca­reer.

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