Heisman-winning-QB-but-also-A’s-draft-pick Kyler Murray has a choice to make, and it looks like he’s going to forego a baseball career (for now) to enter the NFL Draft, and it looks like he’s going to announce that as soon as tomorrow. Both the A’s and Major League Baseball have sent envoys to Dallas to convince him to reconsider, and there’s reportedly one way to change his mind:
Given that the A’s surely don’t have that kind of money left over from their draft pool, this would require MLB to circumvent its own rules regarding draft-pick compensation. And what do you know:
(So, functionally, this would mean the A’s would put Murray on the 40-man roster in order to pay him, but with no intention of bringing him up to the majors any time soon.)
The A’s gave Murray a $4.66 million signing bonus when they drafted him ninth overall last June, and while he’d have to return that money if he chooses the NFL, the A’s would not receive any sort of draft compensation. So the stakes are high for the Athletics delegation, including VP of baseball operations Billy Beane and general manager David Forst, which met with Murray and agent Scott Boras on Sunday.
That Murray would even consider playing football is an indictment of MLB’s financial system, especially for young players. That signing bonus seems nice right now, but he’d have to play in the minors for a few years for less than a living wage (and deal with all those crappy hotel rooms and long bus rides), then if he makes the majors he’d earn the league minimum for three seasons, then he hits his arbitration years, and only then would he get the chance to hit free agency and sign that first big-money contract. Even if Murray turns out to be an excellent ballplayer, he would be nearing 30 before he’d first be allowed to negotiate for what he’s worth.
And of course, it can’t help matters that Murray is looking at what’s happening this winter, as an entire class of free agents, superstars among them, are going unsigned and receiving offers well below what they expected. It is, simply put, not as lucrative to be a professional baseball player as it ought to be.
Compare this with the path to the NFL. If Murray goes in the first round, he would earn more guaranteed money on his rookie deal than he would from the Athletics’ signing bonus; he would have a chance to start within a year or two; he would be in line for his first big payday in just four years. Even the argument that baseball is safer than football doesn’t particularly apply to quarterbacks.
Is it any wonder Murray would like more money up front if he’s to consider baseball? Ah, but MLB’s got one more ace up its sleeve, sending its own suits to the meeting with Murray:
In addition, MLB sent marketing executives from the league office to attend the meeting and present information regarding Murray’s off-field earning potential, sources told MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi.
This is a brilliant tactic so long as no one tells Murray that football players can sign endorsement deals too.