Athletics

Kyler Murray wins 2018 Heisman Trophy; could he pick NFL over A's?

Kyler Murray wins 2018 Heisman Trophy; could he pick NFL over A's?

Add the Heisman Trophy to Kyler Murray’s growing list of accolades. Likely add increased speculation about his future, too.

Murray, an Oakland A’s prospect who also plays quarterback for Oklahoma, was voted the recipient of the Heisman, which is given to college football’s most outstanding player.

Murray beat out two other quarterbacks -- Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa and Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins -- for the award, which he received Saturday in New York. Being so honored will do nothing to quiet talk that he could change his mind and pick football over baseball.

This past summer, Murray signed a $4.66 million contract with the A’s, who drafted him No. 9 overall as an outfielder, and he has said he’ll join them for spring training next year. Scott Boras, Murray’s agent, said Thursday that his client remains committed to playing baseball.

“Kyler has every intention of fulfilling his agreement with the A’s, and he’s grateful he has had the chance to pursue his college goals,” Boras told The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser. “He will be in spring training with the A’s.”

Murray himself hasn’t been as clear, though. He told ESPN last week that pursuing a football career is “something me and my family will talk about at the end of the season and weigh out the options of what the NFL thinks of me.” He also said Friday that he’d like to play both football and baseball, but he wasn’t sure if doing that would be possible.

Underclassmen have until Jan. 14 to declare their intention to enter the 2019 NFL Draft. So, if Murray wants to pursue a football career, he’ll have to decide by that date. He also could decide to return to Oklahoma for his senior season, although that seems unlikely, given all the atention he has received as a potential first-round NFL draft pick.

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

Murray is listed at 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds, but that slight size is countered by his unique play-making ability. In his first season as Oklahoma’s starting QB, Murray has thrown for 4,053 yards and 40 touchdowns, and run for 892 yards and 11 more scores in 13 games.

Murray will lead the Sooners (12-1) against top-ranked Alabama (13-0) in the Dec. 29 Orange Bowl, with a berth in the Jan. 7 College Football Playoff national championship game on the line.

That game will be played at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara. A’s fans hope it won’t be the last time they see Murray play in the Bay.

A's Sean Manaea making strong case to start potential wild-card game

A's Sean Manaea making strong case to start potential wild-card game

Sean Manaea missed more than a year with an injury to his pitching shoulder. Somehow, he hasn't missed a beat.

The A's left-hander tossed six shutout innings Sunday, allowing just three hits and a walk with six strikeouts as Oakland beat Texas 6-1 for its sixth straight win.

"Every time out, it's borderline dominance," A's manager Bob Melvin told reporters. "As the game went along, he got better and better. Absolutely fantastic. He definitely set the tone."

In three starts since returning from the injured list earlier this month, Manaea has surrendered just one run and six hits in 18 innings, with 21 strikeouts. That translates to an ERA of 0.50.

"It's been fun to play behind Sean every start," A's third baseman Matt Chapman told reporters. "He's worked quick. It seems like not a lot of guys have been getting on base. He's thrown a lot of strikes and he seems super confident. It just goes to show how hard he worked to come back."

The A's have received strong production from their entire starting rotation for most of the season, but Manaea is starting to separate himself from the pack. If the 27-year-old continues to dominate his opposition at this level, he would seem to be the clear frontrunner to start a potential Wild Card Game.

"It's almost like we've got a fresh guy now too," Melvin said. "He's pitching like he's fresh. ... Unfortunately, he had to go through what he had to go through to get to this pace, but it's a fresh, live arm right now. Every time he goes out there, the team just feels better about themselves."

[RELATED: Powerful A's offense sets franchise record with 244th homer of season]

With 12 games remaining in the regular season, the A's sit at 90-60, the same exact record as last season through 150 games. Oakland leads Tampa Bay by 1 1/2 games for the first wild-card position and Cleveland by three games for the second spot.

The A's open their final homestand of the season on Monday against the Kansas City Royals.

Powerful A's offense sets franchise record with 244th homer of season

Powerful A's offense sets franchise record with 244th homer of season

Move over, Bash Brothers. There's a new king of the long ball in Oakland.

The 2019 Oakland A's set a franchise record with their 244th home run of the season on Sunday in a 6-1 win over the Texas Rangers.

Marcus Semien launched his 30th home run of the season in the third inning to match the record at 243. Then in the ninth, Matt Chapman blasted his 34th homer to set the new mark.

"I think it means a lot for our whole team, in general, to be able to take that record with an organization that's had a Mark McGwire and a Jose Canseco and guys like that," Chapman told reporters. "It just shows that we have a lot of good players on our team. I was the lucky one who got to break the record but I don't think I'd be here without Oly (Matt Olson) and Marcus (Semien) and a lot of those guys. It was definitely a team effort."

Semien's home run gives the A's three players with at least 30 long balls for the first time since 2001, when Jason Giambi, Eric Chavez, and Miguel Tejada accomplished the feat.

"30 home runs for Marcus Semien -- I don't even know what to say about that," A's manager Bob Melvin told reporters. "Leading off and what he does defensively, the numbers that he's putting up, his leadership."

Added Chapman: "Amazing. It just goes to show that hard work pays off and he just continually got better. He was able to make adjustments every year. He'd go home in the offseason and figure out what he wants to work on -- his weaknesses -- and he would go and get better and turn them into his strengths." 

[RELATED: Clean-shaven A's starter Mike Fiers reveals story behind strange beard]

Incredibly, the A's still have 12 games left to add to their new record. Chapman and Matt Olson currently lead the squad with 34 round-trippers and have a shot at reaching 40. Mark Canha, Ramon Laureano, Khris Davis, and Jurickson Profar give the A's an Oakland-record seven players with 20 or more home runs.