Oakland Athletics: Could Kyler Murray Play in the NFL and MLB simultaneously?

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 15: First round draft pick Kyler Murray of the Oakland Athletics takes batting practice after signing his contract at the Oakland Alameda Coliseum on June 15, 2018 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 15: First round draft pick Kyler Murray of the Oakland Athletics takes batting practice after signing his contract at the Oakland Alameda Coliseum on June 15, 2018 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images) /

The Oakland Athletics may still get to have Kyler Murray in their organization.

Today, the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers are preparing to face off in the Super Bowl.  Meanwhile, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray is preparing for his offseason and made headlines when he told the Arizona Republic that he thinks he could play in the NFL and MLB at the same time.

"“I think I could, athletically, I think, yeah, I could do it. I’ve been playing both my whole life. I would love to add that to the résumé.”"

Murray was famously drafted in the first round of the MLB Draft by the Oakland Athletics before choosing football over baseball.  Murray was allowed to finish out his football career that fall but after winning the Heisman, he decided to go the NFL where he was drafted with the first overall pick.

The fact that Murray was selected in the first round of two sports’ drafts shows what a rare athletic talent he is.  So could Murray play both sports?  Well first let’s go back to Murray’s baseball career at Oklahoma where he played CF.

Just by the video, we can see that Kyler Murray has real offensive talent. Anyone who watched him at Oklahoma or with the Cardinals know he’s a plus runner. FanGraphs noted that Murray had 70 speed, 55 raw power, and good bat speed (20:80 Scale, 50 Average). Surely, Murray’s speed and quick twitch scrambling skills would allow him to be above average in the OF as well. All told, FanGraphs believed Murray was a 45FV player at the time of the draft and he would move up into a 50FV with a solid showing at his first minor league assignment. Just how gifted is Kyler Murray, baseball player? Check out this list of prospects with 55 hit, 55 raw power, and 70 speed.

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There’s no question the talent is there but how would Oakland utilize Murray?  Murray would be a natural fit for patrolling CF at the Coliseum and also has the arm for RF so Oakland could play late game defensive matchups to get more speed/arm in the OF.  Offensively, Murray’s above average hit tool would let him fit in the A’s lineups as a leadoff or backend type who could produce a wRC+ in the 105-120 range.  All told, Murray’s total contribution could be in the 2-3 WAR range and you could dream on the tools to produce even more.  The A’s and every MLB team would be thrilled with that outcome.

Now comes several difficult things the Athletics and Cardinals would have to work out.  The NFL season runs September to February while MLB goes April to October.  There’s already a schedule overlap and that doesn’t take into account pre-season, minicamps, and offseason recovery and training regiments.

Quarterback and playing the outfield have their own specific workloads. How would both teams manage Murray’s workload? Shohei Ohtani could provide a blueprint for Murray since he gets the day off from hitting before and after he pitches. If rosters continue to expand, Murray could be an appealing option but Oakland wouldn’t want to roster someone who is limited to part-time duty. MLB could mitigate this problem by adding some sort of rule that would let the A’s free up Murray’s roster spot but it’s still not ideal.

Another consideration would be the logistics of Murray playing baseball and football. The A’s could be playing at home or in 29 other stadiums across the country. Murray would be in the most critical part of the baseball season while having to game plan against opposing defenses on Sunday. The Cardinals surely wouldn’t be thrilled to be doing a run-through in Arizona while their QB is batting 741 miles away in Oakland. Murray would be on a plane constantly which could cause him to break down or not recover from the rigors of either sport correctly. He would spend significant amounts of time studying pitchers or NFL defenses from 30,000 feet instead of being present.

The last issue would be the matter of Murray’s development as a baseball player. At present, Murray hasn’t played baseball since 2018 at Oklahoma. Shaking off the rust would take some time, but Murray would have to go to the minor leagues. Oakland actually has a better minor-league set up for this to work with Single-A Advanced just outside of Oakland, AA in Midland, Texas, and AAA in Las Vegas. Murray grew up in Texas, so maybe he wouldn’t mind playing close to home while he develops. The real question, is how open would Murray, who has now spent a whole season on an NFL jet, take the brutal minor league bus tours? Murray and the A’s could work out a deal to put him on the fast track to the MLB roster.

While the entertainment factor would be through the roof, there are a number of hurdles that would have to be cleared and close coordination by the MLB/NFL and the Athletics/Cardinals to make this arrangement work. It’s also important to remember how hard professional sports are, as there is no guarantee Murray would work out as a player.

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Kyler Murray is an elite talent and would be electric to watch on a baseball field. Unfortunately, it would probably take Murray failing in the NFL before we would see him suit up for the Oakland Athletics.