Kyler Murray chooses football
The Athletics shocked everyone back in June when they used a top ten selection in the MLB draft to choose Kyler Murray, a great athlete but one who might not even be a baseball player. Oakland believed with such a large commitment and a large signing bonus, they’d be able to get him to choose baseball. As a show of good faith, though, they didn’t really push back when Murray indicated he did want to play one final year of football at the University of Oklahoma. That would backfire in a big way. Murray ended up winning the Heisman Trophy for best player in college football, and with every passing week the possibility of him passing on baseball to enter the NFL draft became more and more real. On Monday, it became official. Murray was going to concentrate fully on football.
This was clearly a big blow to the Athletics, who essentially wasted a top ten pick. That’s bad for any team, but it’s particularly bad for a team like them that refuses to spend money on veteran talent. They rely on a constant stream of talent coming from the minors. As for Murray, a lot of people are using this as proof that baseball needs to change their compensation system for minor-league players and those in the early years of their major-league careers. Don’t get me wrong; I believe that is 100 percent true. I’m just not sure that’s really the reasoning here. Murray clearly preferred football this entire time, and it was just a matter of where he’d be drafted. If he was going to be a first round pick, I’m not sure there’s anything baseball could have done to keep him. Still, this isn’t a great look, and paying their minor leaguers a living wage certainly wouldn’t hurt the next time a two-sport athlete is trying to make this choice.
Brett Anderson signs with the Athletics
It wasn’t all bad news for the A’s on Monday, though this bit of news probably didn’t outweigh Murray news. Still, they did help their rotation a bit with one of their biggest surprises from 2018. Brett Anderson signed a one-year deal to head back to Oakland. As of this writing the financial commitment is not yet known. Anderson has always had talent, but the lefty has been injury-prone his entire career and only has two seasons with 20 or more starts. In 2018, he only made 17, but he was much better than expected. His final numbers — 4.48 ERA, 4.20 FIP, 3.98 DRA — weren’t great, but he was better than anyone expected as he had basically been written off. The A’s are going to need to catch some more magic with their rotation if they want to make another run in 2019, and going back to the well with some of the same guys isn’t the worst idea.