The Oakland A’s have employed a curious and potentially winning strategy when it comes to persuading Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray to choose a career in baseball over a career in football. They’ve indulged him, letting him play for Oklahoma last year. They seem to be inclined to cooperate with him, possibly allowing him to attend the Scouting Combine in lieu of spring training.
On Sunday, they’ll meet with him, one day before the deadline for applying for early entry to the 2019 NFL draft.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that a contingent led by team president Billy Beane will have a sit-down with Murray, hopeful that he’ll chose hardball over oblongball.
Their pitch could be an ultimatum. Or maybe it will unfold as a good-cop, bad-cop routine aimed at injecting Murray with alternating doses of guilt-trip and ego-stroke, with baseball agent Scott Boras (who has said Murray definitely is playing baseball) serving as a double-agent of sorts, officially acting in Murray’s best interests but unofficially acting in the best interests of the A’s and, more importantly, himself.
Or maybe the A’s will continue to be fully supportive or Murray’s football flirtations, telling him how badly they want him to play baseball but expressing full and complete understanding of his desire to explore the depths of the football rabbit hole that already has led him to the highest individual honor the college level can bestow.
“We’ll be here if you change your mind,” they’ll say, hopeful that he keeps one foot in the baseball boat long enough to scare NFL teams from risking a first-round pick, thereby nudging him toward baseball.
That’s ultimately what it may come down to. If the A’s can keep Murray from slamming the door on baseball, there’s a good chance no NFL team will burn a 2019 first-round pick on Murray, especially since draft rights last only one year.
So if Murray chooses to apply for early entry to the draft, it won’t be the end but simply the end of the beginning. But in the end it will be impossible for Murray to maximize his draft stock until he says clearly and convincingly, “I’m playing football, not baseball” — and then acts accordingly.