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Oakland A’s agree to terms with 1st-round draft pick Kyler Murray

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Murray will play college football this fall before shifting focus to baseball.

We’ll wait to see him play baseball later rather than sooner.
Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s agreed to terms on a contract with 1st-round draft pick Kyler Murray, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. The deal will guarantee Murray “close to $5M,” which is right in line with the $4.76 million slot value of the pick. He’ll also be permitted to play college football this fall for Oklahoma, where he’s competing for the starting quarterback job.

The selection of Murray drew many questions at the time due to the uncertainty over the direction of his future. However, the A’s immediately made clear that they were on board with letting him follow his two-sport dreams for one more season, and that they were willing to accept the risk of injury in football in order to procure his high level of talent (via Susan Slusser, S.F. Chronicle). Murray is considered an elite athlete with 70-grade speed, and with the chance to become a dynamic baseball player with further development.

Here’s his full pre-draft scouting report from MLB Pipeline:

Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 70 | Arm: 40 | Field: 55 | Overall: 50

The best athlete in the 2015 Draft, Murray drew first-round interest from several clubs but opted out of the process because he was also the nation’s top-rated dual threat quarterback prospect and wanted to play football and baseball at Texas A&M. Despite playing regularly as a freshman for the Aggies, he opted to transfer to Oklahoma, where he had to sit out 2016 before backing up Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield last fall. After looking overmatched at the plate in his return to baseball with the Sooners last spring and in the Cape Cod League last summer, he has shown dramatic improvement as a redshirt sophomore.

Though he continues to juggle two sports and has lost a lot of at-bats while doing so, Murray has made impressive adjustments at the plate. He’s making better contact and no longer is easy prey for breaking balls, doing a better job of recognizing them and not chasing them off the plate. He has the plus-plus speed to create havoc on the bases and the bat speed and strength to produce average power.

The son of former Texas A&M quarterback and Brewers farmhand Kevin Murray and the nephew of two-time first-rounder and five-year big leaguer Calvin Murray, Kyler still needs to reduce his strikeouts further and is a work in progress defensively. He’s learning reads and routes but has the quickness to outrun his mistakes and eventually could become at least a solid center fielder. His arm has regressed on the diamond and currently plays below average.

With his tools and the surprising progress he has made in 2018, Murray once again is in position to command a multimillion-dollar bonus. However, it may be virtually impossible to get him to give up football when he’s a leading contender to helm one of college football’s top offenses. He’ll turn 21 shortly after the Draft and needs to get going with his baseball career if that’s going to be his future.

For more on the 2018 MLB Draft, check out our coverage in the following links:

Welcome to the A’s, Kyler! Baseball is always the right choice.