Kyler Murray’s baseball prospects? Cardinals GM says A’s payroll speaks for itself

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Kyler Murray’s chances of continuing to dress for the Oakland Athletics took a hit from the truckload one day this week, with Murray landing a contract that makes him one of the highest-paid players in the NFL.

Drafted ninth overall by the A’s in 2018, as an outfielder, Murray won the Heisman Trophy that year as an Oklahoma quarterback, chose football and became No. 1 overall of the Arizona Cardinals in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Murray, 24, and the Cardinals agreed to a five-year, $230.5 million extension this week, with an average annual value of $46.1 million behind Aaron Rodgers for the NFL’s greatest.

Murray’s ideas of switching from his budding football career to baseball already seemed far-fetched. But the subject – and the A’s – have always appeared following the formalization of its extension.

At a press conference on Friday, an Arizona reporter asked Murray if this “put a stop” to future baseball activities.

Cardinals general manager Steve Keim chimed in instead: “Have you seen the Oakland A’s payroll versus his contract? Enough said.

The A’s, after offseason cost-cutting trades and free agent departures, have carried an opening day payroll of $47.7 million this season — slightly more than the AAV of the maximum value of Murray’s deal (which includes a reported $160 million guarantee).

In the NFL, Murray started right away as a rookie, working his way to a mega-deal ahead of his fourth professional season. In baseball, Murray would have started in the minors (where his 2020 season could have been canceled) and it would likely be years before he landed a big new contract.

At Keim’s point, Murray would also have joined an A organization known to be thrifty. The A’s had the second lowest payroll in MLB this year and have ranked 23rd or lower every season since 2007. The biggest contract Oakland has given out is still Eric Chavez’s six-year, $66 million contract. dollars in 2004.

Murray, who signed for a $4.6 million bonus after the A’s drafted him, never appeared in their minor league system, announcing he would play football in early 2019 before what would have been his first spring training.

He topped a 2018 draft class that has yet to make it to the A’s. Only one member has made it to the majors with Oakland, infielder Jonah Bride (23rd round), who made his debut this season. The A’s traded fourth-round pick Alfonso Rivas to the Cubs for Tony Kemp, and Rivas played with Chicago in the majors. Several other 2018 draft picks are in Triple-A.

The A’s retain Murray’s baseball rights. On Friday, Murray laughed at the baseball question and Keim’s response, ultimately giving a categorical, if not explicit, answer.

“I’m where I want to be,” Murray said. “I am where I want to be.”

Matt Kawahara covers the A’s for The San Francisco Chronicle.

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