By JANIE McCAULEY
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Oakland Athletics remain hopeful of seeing Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray in their uniform when spring training begins next month.
While the Oklahoma quarterback declared for the NFL draft last week, the prized outfielder and 2018 first-round draft pick could report to A’s spring training in Mesa, Arizona. He has an invite to big league camp.
“As we’re sitting here right now we expect him to be in spring training,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said Friday, a day before the club’s Fan Fest. “Now, look, he has opened up some doors for himself that the world is literally his oyster right now, and I will be for whatever he chooses to do. The football thing, you win the Heisman Trophy and you get drafted in the first round, how often does that happen? He is that type of athlete and he’s going to have a great career in whatever he chooses to do, and we will support whatever he chooses to do. But at this point in time we haven’t heard anything different and I’m expecting him to be in spring training. If something changes in the meantime then we deal with it.”
On Jan. 13, representatives of the A’s and Major League Baseball met with Murrayl.
“We’d love to have him. He’s invited to spring training. We’re hoping he’s there,” A’s general manager David Forst said. “He’s an incredible young man and would be a great asset for the A’s. We made it clear to Kyler how much we’d like to have him here and how great a baseball player we think he could be.”
The 5-foot-10, 195-pound Murray’s Sooners lost in a college football playoff semifinal Dec. 29 to eventual runner-up Alabama.
Drafted last June with the ninth overall pick, the outfielder signed with Oakland for a $4.66 million bonus, of which $1.5 million was paid last summer within 30 days of the deal’s approval by the commissioner’s office. The remaining $3.16 million is due on March 1.
There was an agreement between the team and Murray that he would play football last year, then skip his senior season to begin his pro baseball career. Melvin as well as executive Billy Beane and Forst closely followed Oklahoma football in 2018.
Murray showed off his skills taking batting practice at the Coliseum in an A’s uniform back in June, greeted by “WELCOME TO OAKLAND” on the big scoreboard with his photo.
In football this past season, he completed 260 of 377 passes for 4,361 yards and 42 touchdowns with seven interceptions and a passer rating of 199.2. He also rushed for 1,001 yards and 12 TDs.
“You’ve got to separate there. When he comes and plays baseball the football thing is good stories for the guys. It’s all about performing in baseball, that’s kind of where my focus will be,” Melvin said. “It’s a phenomenal athlete if you take a step back and look what he’s accomplished.”