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MLB Roundup 1/15: Kyler Murray officially declares for the NFL draft

And the Rays sign a right-handed bat

College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl - Alabama v Oklahoma Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Kyler Murray declares for the NFL draft

The biggest story in baseball for the last couple of weeks has been what will happen with last summer’s ninth overall pick. The Athletics knew they took a risk in drafting Kyler Murray with their top ten pick despite him wanting to play football in the fall. The A’s had no problem letting him play for Oklahoma for one last go with football before focusing entirely on baseball. Except, well, things snowballed. Murray was incredible for the Sooners, leading them to the playoff and eventually taking home the Heisman. His stock in football skyrocketed, and he has a decision to make between the two sports. We’ve talked about this a whole lot at this point, and while the safety concerns of football are clearly a factor they aren’t as extreme for a quarterback like Murray. If he’s a first round pick, it’s hard to argue against him playing football, particularly if it’s the sport he prefers. Murray is at least going to see what scouts have to say about him, as the star declared for the NFL draft on Monday. He can still decide he’s going to play baseball, but with each passing day it’s looking more and more like he’s going to be in the NFL next fall.

Rays sign Avisail Garcia

The Rays, coming off a surprisingly good season headlined by the success of the “opener” strategy, have been connected to some big right-handed bats all offseason. They let C.J. Cron go earlier in the winter, and guys like Nelson Cruz and Edwin Encarnacion have been rumored to replace him. Cruz is in Minnesota now, and Encarnacion is yet to be traded out of Seattle, so the Rays have looked further down the market. On Monday, they signed outfielder and former White Sox Avisail Garcia to a one-year deal. This is clearly a big step down from guys like Cruz and Encarnacion. Garcia is a solid enough bat and had a huge breakout two years ago that was mostly buoyed by an unsustainable batting average on balls in play. Still, he did make some real changes and hits the ball well and should be something around a league-average bat. Expect him to get the majority of the at bats at DH for the Rays.