Kyler Murray had a stellar first season starting as quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals earning Rookie of the Year honors. His first-year performance seemingly justified his decision to choose football over baseball. The Oakland A’s announcement on salary reductions for its minor league players has further confirmed Murray’s decision.
Kyler Murray highly coveted in MLB and NFL
The Oakland A’s selected Kyler Murray with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2018 MLB draft held in June. The Athletics agreed to a $4.66 million signing bonus with the Oklahoma quarterback and also allowed him to play football for the Sooners that fall.
During Murray’s junior year in Norman, he led the Sooners to a 12-2 record, won the Heisman Trophy, then skyrocketed up the draft board where he was the No. 1 overall draft pick by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2019 NFL draft.
It was decision time for Kyler Murray. Although, in all honesty, it really wasn’t much of a decision. Despite rumors that the A’s had offered Murray the signing bonus plus $14.4 million guaranteed, Murray opted to take the NFL route and a much larger deal with a fully-guaranteed four-year, $35.15 million contract, paired with a signing bonus of more than $23 million.
While money was the biggest factor, Murray’s decision to play football also allowed him to avoid enduring the grind that is minor league baseball and the long bus trips to ballparks in some of the most remote places in America.
Kyler Murray’s rookie season
Some in the NFL questioned the Cardinals’ selection of the 5-foot-10-inch Murray. His diminutive stature was one thing, but others believed Murray’s elusiveness on display for a couple of seasons at Oklahoma wouldn’t translate to the bigger and faster pace of the NFL.
Murray started all 16 games for the Cardinals, dispelling any thoughts of his inadequacies early in the 2019 campaign. In the season-opening game against Detroit, he staged an impressive 18-point fourth-quarter comeback for the Arizona offense, with the game ending in a 27-27 tie.
While the team struggled for the season with a lackluster 5-10-1 record, it wasn’t due to a lack of offense. Kyler Murray had his rookie challenges at times but remained pretty consistent throughout his first year. For the season, he completed 349 of 542 passes for 3,722 yards. He tossed 20 touchdowns with 12 interceptions. For his efforts, he was awarded AP Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Oakland A’s announce end of weekly stipends to minor league players
With the minor league season indefinitely on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Oakland A’s, along with other teams, have been paying minor league players a stipend of $400 a week. According to the organization, that uncertain future calls for the implementation of significant temporary furlough of staff positions, and reduced compensation for staff members. As part of its cost-cutting measures, A’s owner John Fisher sent out an email, which was obtained by Yahoo Sports, that indicated it would be suspending pay for its minor league players after May 31.
“I know that many of you will wonder why the A’s are cutting costs now,” the email read. “Nobody knows how this pandemic will evolve over the long term. What is clear is that our revenues will be dramatically reduced this year. None of this diminishes the pain of today’s actions, but it is an honest acknowledgment of the circumstances of the moment.”
The A’s are the first team to suspend the stipends. Others could soon follow.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan made an interesting point about the players’ pay and the A’s owner on Twitter.
This situation is just a reminder of how this pandemic has shut down so many industries, including sports, and is having a devastating effect on real humans. And it magnifies why Kyler Murray’s decision now looks genius in millions of ways.