A's position players are due to report to spring training in exactly one week, yet no one seems to have any idea whether Kyler Murray will be there.
We found out yesterday that Oakland's 2018 first-round pick will attend the NFL Scouting Combine at the end of the month, which seemingly signals bad news for the A's. However, there are a few scenarios in play where the two-sport star could still choose professional baseball.
NBC Sports California spoke to a former MLB general manager, who said there is no Major League rule preventing Murray from leaving spring training for the NFL Combine and then returning afterward. It would be up to the A's and Murray to come to an agreement.
The former general manager also pointed out that Murray is not necessarily obligated to attend Major League camp since he is not on the A's 40-man roster. While he received an invitation to big league camp, he could theoretically just show up for A's minor league camp, which begins in March, after the NFL Combine.
Another thing to keep in mind is that, even if Murray did pursue an NFL career, the A's would retain his baseball rights in the future. That means if his NFL career didn't work out, he could return to baseball down the road in Oakland's organization.
So what does all of this mean for the A's? The first scenario seems most likely, with Murray reporting for big-league camp February 15, leaving February 26 for the NFL Combine, and then returning March 4. This obviously wouldn't be ideal for the A's, but they really don't have much of a choice at this point.
Murray's NFL Draft stock could always fall following the Combine, particularly if he didn't measure well. Football scouts have already expressed concerns over his small frame and lack of height, though he is still projected as a first-round pick by just about every mock draft. If that were to change, Murray would be much more likely to stick with baseball.
The second scenario makes sense on paper, but the optics would be terrible. If Murray really skipped big-league camp, it would clearly signal that football is his top priority, even if he showed up for minor league camp after the NFL Combine.
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The third scenario is why the A's would be wise to maintain a positive relationship with Murray, even if he were to pursue an NFL career. Oakland would retain his baseball rights and he could still have an A's career after football.
Right now, Murray is getting pulled in several different directions, by his agent, by scouts, by the A's, and by his family. The A's want him to commit to baseball. NFL teams will want him to commit fully to football. Obviously, he wants to keep his options open as long as possible, but time is running out.