OAKLAND -- The reasonable hesitation that accompanied thoughts of selecting a two-sport athlete surely infiltrated the A's Draft room. Billy Beane sensed it."Everyone was sort of dancing around the obvious," Oakland's vice president of baseball operations said. "I knew who they really wanted, but they were fearful of sort of
OAKLAND -- The reasonable hesitation that accompanied thoughts of selecting a two-sport athlete surely infiltrated the A's Draft room. Billy Beane sensed it.
"Everyone was sort of dancing around the obvious," Oakland's vice president of baseball operations said. "I knew who they really wanted, but they were fearful of sort of dealing with the whole football issue."
The talent at stake: Oklahoma Sooner standout Kyler Murray. The risk at stake: Murray wished to succeed Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield at quarterback in the fall before resuming baseball.
The novelty of it all scared off other teams, agent Scott Boras said. The A's, though, were enamored with his athleticism.
"And probably about 36 hours before the Draft, I was talking to David [Forst]," Beane said, "and I said, 'We should take Kyler Murray; that's who everyone wants to take.'
"Everyone kind of looked at me as if [asking], 'Is that OK?' And I said, 'Yeah, we're going to do it. If it's the best player, we're going to take him.' I think it really energized everyone. No one really wanted to mention the whole football thing and I said, 'Hey, listen guys. In January, we're going to be really excited that this kid is playing for the Oakland A's. We're going to be hitting ourselves in January if we haven't taken this kid.' That's when we called Scott, and it happened pretty quickly."
Beane and the A's officially agreed to terms with Murray's camp on Friday to a deal that includes a $4.66 million signing bonus, per MLB.com's Jim Callis -- slightly under slot value for the No. 9 selection, which is $4,761,500.
The A's hosted Murray and several members of his family at the Coliseum on Friday, including his father, Kevin Murray, a former Texas A&M quarterback and Brewers farmhand; and his uncle, Calvin Murray, a two-time first-rounder and five-year Major Leaguer.
Boras, whose clientele includes A's third baseman Matt Chapman, was also on hand to introduce Murray. The speedy outfielder, donned in green and gold, took batting practice with the big league squad, exchanging pleasantries with the likes of manager Bob Melvin and slugger Khris Davis.
"A little surreal, obviously, getting to play a professional sport, whichever one it was, but it's been a great day, and I'm just thankful and blessed," Murray said. "I can't put it into words, but I'm just thankful."
"I can say this with a tremendous amount of pride," Beane said. "This is one of the most dynamic athletes that we've selected since I've been here. People ask me, 'Who does he remind you of?' I'm not sure I can really come up with anyone, and I don't want to put any pressure on him, but he's a phenomenal athlete."
Murray, posed the same question, didn't hesitate.
"The big one is Rickey Henderson," he said. "I've watched a lot of his film. Great player, great legend, obviously, but I'm pretty confident in my own skills."
"If that's the comp people are talking about," Melvin said, smiling, "we're OK with that."
Murray, 20, will play one more year of football at Oklahoma, before reporting to Arizona next spring to begin his professional baseball career.
"This guy is fun to watch play football," Beane said. "I'm looking forward to it, I'm not fearing it, mainly because I think the athletic ability is going to be fun to watch and he's going to be fine.
"He's really fun to watch on a football field, and he's going to be fun to watch on a baseball field. It's neat that he gets to do both, and that the country gets to see both, but we're going to get the best years, and he's going to have a great baseball career."
Said Melvin: "We have a little vested interest in watching Oklahoma football this year -- with our eyes closed and our ears plugged."
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB.