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Friday, January 18, 2019

Baseball

Kyler Murray informs A’s he will enter NFL Draft

Kyler Murray

Kyler Murray has made a decision about which sport he wants to pursue at the professional level, and the Oakland A’s are the ones who will be left disappointed.

Murray submitted paperwork to enter the NFL Draft ahead of Monday’s deadline.

While entering the NFL Draft does not necessarily mean Murray can’t play for the A’s, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that he informed the team he is committed to football.

Murray’s decision would have been a shock four or five months ago, but that was before he enjoyed a stellar season at Oklahoma and won the Heisman Trophy. Between his remarkable year and top quarterback prospect Justin Herbert opting to return to Oregon for his senior season, the stars seem to be perfectly aligned for Murray to be drafted in the first round.

If he follows through with his decision to play in the NFL, Murray will have to pay back the portion of the nearly $5 million bonus the A’s gave him after drafting him No. 9 overall in the MLB Draft last year. There was talk of Oakland possibly finding a way to pay Murray more money and convince him to stay, but he appears fully committed to playing football.

Report: White Sox have ‘not budged’ off 7-year offer for Manny Machado

Manny Machado

The Chicago White Sox are one of the teams that remain in on possibly signing Manny Machado, but there are conflicting reports about whether or not they are willing to offer the free agent slugger a long enough contract.

A report from earlier in the month indicated the White Sox are not willing to offer Machado or Bryce Harper longer than a seven-year deal, and both players are said to be looking for at least 10. Then on Sunday, ESPN’s Jeff Passan cited sources who claim Chicago has offered Machado an eight-year deal and may be willing to go longer.

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the White Sox have not upped their offer — at least yet.

The White Sox probably know they don’t have a ton of competition for Machado at this point. The Philadelphia Phillies are looking to spend big money, but they may be turning their focus to Harper after they recently met with him. In reality, there may be only one other team competing with the White Sox to sign Machado.

Sonny Gray reportedly being pursued by at least six teams

Sonny Gray

The New York Yankees received some good news last week when CC Sabathia was cleared to resume all baseball activities, and that could result in them finally parting ways with Sonny Gray.

It has been known since the start of the offseason that the Yankees want to trade Gray, but those talks cooled after Sabathia underwent a heart procedure. With the left-hander expected to be a part of the Opening Day rotation, Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports reports that at least six teams are expressing interest in acquiring Gray.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman was surprisingly candid earlier in the offseason when he said the team would look to trade Gray, and that may have weakened New York’s position. Still, some of the teams Heyman mentioned are ones we have already heard linked to Gray, so the interest seems legitimate.

Gray is a talented pitcher who has been a terrible fit with the Yankees. The right-hander went 15-16 with a 4.51 ERA over one and a half seasons with the team. That was a big step back from the 44-36 record and 3.42 ERA he posted in his tenure with the Oakland A’s. He’s still just 29, so the Yankees are hoping some team will bank on Gray bouncing back in another city.

Report: White Sox have offered Manny Machado an eight-year deal

Manny Machado

The Chicago White Sox are serious about their pursuit of this winter’s top free agent prizes.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported on Sunday that the Sox have offered star infielder Manny Machado an eight-year deal and may be compelled to go even longer. Passan also adds that Machado remains engaged with the Philadelphia Phillies and that an unnamed third team is in the mix as well.

The four-time All-Star Machado, who hit .297 last season with 37 homers and 107 RBIs, will be 27 in July. With an eight-year offer on the table, that means the White Sox are willing to commit to him all the way through his mid-30s.

Chicago is coming off a 100-loss 2018 campaign, but giving that many years to Machado would certainly be a big splash (and a big change of position on their part if you believe some previous reports from earlier this month).

Report: Oakland A’s could put Kyler Murray on MLB roster to pay him more

Kyler Murray

MLB does not want to lose a talented player to another sport and is working with the Oakland A’s on ways to entice Kyler Murray to choose a future in professional baseball.

MLB officials and the Oakland A’s were set to meet on Sunday with Kyler Murray, the Oklahoma Sooners quarterback who is weighing a future in pro baseball or football. Murray was drafted No. 9 overall by the A’s in the June MLB draft and given a $4.66 million signing bonus. The A’s allowed him to play football in the fall, and he exploded with a tremendous season that now has him considering a potentially lucrative future in the NFL.

According to one report, Murray was seeking $15 million from the A’s to stick with baseball.

How could the A’s make that happen? According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the A’s could put Murray on their 40-man roster, which would allow them to pay him a Major League contract rather than a minor league contract as is the case for most draft picks.

Signing bonus aside, minor league players only make a few thousand dollars a month, if that. A first-year player in the minors who is on the MLB 40-man roster would make somewhere in the neighborhood of $40,000 per year. Perhaps MLB would allow the A’s to pay Murray a bonus that comes out of their 2019 payroll rather than have them limited by the total amount of money in their draft bonus pool.

As of the most recent CBA, MLB and the MLBPA created a rule that would allow teams to give out Major League contracts to draft picks in special circumstances such as this, where players have offers in multiple sports.

The deadline for a player to declare for the NFL Draft is Monday, which has created this pressure for the A’s.

Report: Kyler Murray wants $15 million from A’s to stick with baseball

Kyler Murray

If Kyler Murray is going to stick with baseball, he’s going to make the Oakland A’s pay.

Murray and the A’s are set to meet on Sunday to discuss his professional future. According to Mike Leslie of WFAA, Murray wants $15 million guaranteed from Oakland otherwise he will enter the NFL Draft.

The A’s put themselves in this situation by selecting Murray No. 9 overall in the MLB Draft and then letting Murray play football in the fall for Oklahoma. Murray exceeded almost all expectations, putting up a brilliant season that culminated in him winning the Heisman Trophy and taking the Sooners to the College Football Playoff. He played so well that he’s a legitimate first-round NFL prospect and potentially in the mix to go first overall.

Murray has all kinds of leverage. The A’s would only recoup the bonus money they’ve paid to Murray if he does not join the team, but they wouldn’t get their pick back. They’d be in a bad spot. They should spend some of their revenue share money, pay the man and bring him into pro baseball.

Report: Phillies may shift focus to Bryce Harper after excellent meeting

Bryce Harper

The Philadelphia Phillies’ meeting with free agent outfielder Bryce Harper was apparently so successful that they may feel bullish enough to make him their primary free agent target.

According to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, the Phillies had such a good meeting with Harper that the team may shift toward making him their top priority instead of Manny Machado, who they have been pursuing more aggressively.

It is unclear if the Phillies made a formal contract offer to Harper. However, it is indicated that they came away deeply impressed with Harper and his wife Kayla, and the team is very motivated to land one of the two top free agent stars on the market.

USA Today’s Bob Nightengale echoed the reports, stating that the five-hour meeting was so successful that the Phillies have moved ahead of the Washington Nationals as consensus frontrunners for the free agent outfielder.

There have been some reports that the Phillies are willing to pay up for Harper, too. Saturday’s meeting could prove to be a turning point in the free agent pursuit of the high-profile slugger.