Athletics

Kyler Murray, Oklahoma selected to College Football Playoff field

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Kyler Murray, Oklahoma selected to College Football Playoff field

Kyler Murray’s college football career could end where he hopes his Major League Baseball career will begin -- in the Bay.

Oklahoma made the cut when the four-team College Football Playoff field was announced Sunday, so Murray and the Sooners (12-1) will play Alabama (13-0) on Dec. 29 in the Orange Bowl in Miami.

Should they shock the top-ranked Crimson Tide, they’d advance to the national championship game Jan. 7 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara.

[RELATED: Murray recreates iconic Bo Jackson photo in Heisman campaign]

Murray signed a $4.66 million contract with the A’s last summer and has said he’ll join them after one season as Oklahoma’s starting quarterback. That season has gone better than many might have believed: Murray should be a Heisman Trophy finalist after passing for 4,053 yards and 40 touchdowns, and running for 892 yards and 11 more scores in 13 games.

“He is a very dynamic guy in terms of athletic ability, his quickness, his ability to make plays with his feet,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said on ESPN, “and he’s turned into a really, really efficient passer who has good skill guys to make good plays to go along with the rest of their weapons.”

Murray’s athleticism has been on display all season, showing everyone why the A’s spent the No. 9 overall pick in the 2018 MLB draft on him. He’s an outfielder in baseball, and his swing looked pretty sweet during a visit to the Coliseum in June.

Clemson (13-0) will meet Notre Dame (12-0) in the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 29 in Arlington, Texas, in the other CFB semifinal.

Some believed Ohio State (12-1) and even Georgia (11-2) deserved to be in the CFP field over Oklahoma. But there are just four spots, the 13-member selection committee made its decision, and now it’s up to Murray and the Sooners to do the work.

Why A's should move on from Robbie Grossman in final arbitration year

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Why A's should move on from Robbie Grossman in final arbitration year

Editor's note: Over the next two weeks, we will examine 10 A's players who may or may not return to Oakland next season. For each player, we will provide reasons why the A's should bring him back and reasons why they should not, followed by a final determination.

Robbie Grossman, OF

Contract: Final year of arbitration (projected to get $3.3 million after earning $2 million this season)

Reasons to bring him back

Grossman provides versatility as a switch-hitter who can play all three outfield positions. He also has a strong record of reaching base, maintaining a .351 on-base percentage throughout his career.

The A's lineup is extremely right-handed heavy and they could certainly use another left-handed bat, particularly in the outfield. For $3.3 million, Grossman could add some value as a fourth or fifth outfielder.

Reasons to let him go

Grossman is coming off his worst season since 2015, hitting just .240/.334/.348 with six home runs and 38 RBI in 138 games. The 30-year-old has never provided much power, averaging just six homers per season in his career, with a high of 11 in 2016.

Oakland already has a crowded outfield with Ramón Laureano, Mark Canha, Stephen Piscotty, and Chad Pinder. The A's also have Dustin Fowler, Skye Bolt, and Seth Brown awaiting their opportunity in the minor leagues. Grossman isn't necessarily an upgrade over any of those names.

Final verdict

Due to their excellent outfield depth, the A's should move on without Grossman in 2020. That $3.3 million could be better spent in other areas -- relief pitching, as an example.

[RELATED: A's stay or go candidate for 2020 season: Josh Phegley]

If Grossman were to return, he would almost certainly be a bench player, and as we've noted, Oakland has plenty of other options to fill those fourth and fifth outfielder roles for far less than $3.3 million.

Why A's should bring back catcher Josh Phegley in final arbitration year

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Why A's should bring back catcher Josh Phegley in final arbitration year

Editor's note: Over the next two weeks, we will examine 10 A's players who may or may not return to Oakland next season. For each player, we will provide reasons why the A's should bring him back and reasons why they should not, followed by a final determination.

Josh Phegley, C

Contract: Final year of arbitration (projected to get $2.2 million after earning $1.075 million this season)

Reasons to bring him back

Phegley put together the best season of his career in 2019. The 31-year-old slashed .239/.282/.411 with 12 home runs, 18 doubles and 62 RBI in 106 games, spending most of the year as Oakland's starting catcher.

Even with top prospect Sean Murphy poised to take over the starting job in 2020, Phegley still could provide significant value as a backup. He knows the A's pitching staff well, having been with the team since 2015, and he has displayed some pop with the bat.

Reasons to let him go

Murphy long has been considered the A's catcher of the future, and the future is now. The 25-year-old is a better defensive catcher than Phegley and more productive offensively as well. Oakland could decide that $2.2 million is too much to spend on a backup catcher, or they could choose to fill that role in free agency (anyone up for a Stephen Vogt reunion?).

[RELATED: Why A's should  non-tender Blake Treinen]

Final verdict

For $2.2 million, Phegley is a bargain and should return to Oakland. He has proven to be a serviceable starting catcher, in case Murphy goes down, and he fits in well with the rest of the clubhouse. Sure, the A's could find a slightly cheaper backup catcher if they really wanted, but Phegley's intangibles, including his veteran leadership, and his production make him well worth the money.