Athletics

MLB rumors: A's expect Kyler Murray to be at spring training, play in Stockton

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AP

MLB rumors: A's expect Kyler Murray to be at spring training, play in Stockton

The A’s reportedly expect Kyler Murray to start his baseball career in the California League this coming season.

Whether or not Murray actually wants a baseball career is the question, though.

Amid a San Francisco Chronicle report that the A’s expect Murray to declare for the 2019 NFL Draft, ESPN’s Jeff Passan cited sources in reporting Wednesday that the team was told the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback wouldn’t return to Oklahoma next season.

Sources also told ESPN that the A’s expect to see Murray, whom they drafted in the first round last year, in spring training from mid-February until mid-March, then have him start his first professional baseball season at Class A Stockton.

One problem: any pursuit of a football career surely would interrupt a baseball career, as the NFL Scouting Combine starts in late February.

While Scott Boras, Murray’s agent, again said the outfield prospect has a deal with the A’s, the two-sport athlete has until Monday to truly decide his NFL draft status. The deadline for college football underclassmen to state their NFL draft intentions is due then.

Even if Murray declares for the NFL Draft, that wouldn’t mean he is committed to football over baseball, ESPN reported. But if Murray left spring training to attend the combine -- a move the A's and Major League Baseball reportedly would have to approve -- it likely would send a message to his new A's teammates about his priorities.

Three A's prospects named to Baseball America's top 100 for 2020 season

Three A's prospects named to Baseball America's top 100 for 2020 season

The A's have one of MLB's best young cores in third baseman Matt Chapman, shortstop Marcus Semien and first baseman Matt Olson. Add in pitchers Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas and it's clear why this team keeps knocking on the door as a contender. 

The future for Oakland already is here, too. That sentiment was reinforced Wednesday when Baseball America released its latest list of their top 100 prospects before the 2020 season. 

Pitchers Jesus Luzardo (nine) and A.J. Puk (21), and catcher Sean Murphy (41) all made the list. They also all made their major league debuts last season. 

Luzardo is Baseball America's No. 2 left-handed pitching prospect behind only MacKenzie Gore (six) of the San Diego Padres. Puk is the website's fourth-best lefty, three spots higher than MLB Pipeline ranked him. 

Murphy comes in as the third-highest ranked catcher, behind Giants prospect Joey Bart. As someone whose defense stands out, he will be a key factor in Luzardo and Puk's development on a big league mound. 

Luzardo, 22, might wind up being the A's ace as soon as this upcoming season. Puk, who will turn 25 in April, isn't too far behind. Both pitchers are hard-throwing southpaws who have dirty offspeed pitches. 

[RELATED: Former Cal pitcher rises up A's top 10 prospect rankings]

Murphy, who hit four homers in just 20 games for the A's last year, likely will be Oakland's Opening Day catcher this year. He has Gold Glove potential behind the plate and is continuing to improve as a hitter. 

The A's already have their Big Three on offense in Chapman, Olson and Semien. The next trio already has arrived, and they're here to stay.

Pedro Martinez lazily rips Mike Fiers for his role in Astros' scandal

Pedro Martinez lazily rips Mike Fiers for his role in Astros' scandal

Pedro Martinez has joined Jessica Mendoza on the wrong side of history

The Hall of Fame pitcher recently spoke out on A's pitcher Mike Fiers, putting his name next to accusations of the Houston Astros electronically stealing signs in the 2017 season. 

“If he was to do it when he was playing for the Houston Astros, I would say Mike Fiers has guts,” Martinez told WEEI on Saturday. “But to go and do it after you leave the Houston Astros because they don’t have you anymore, that doesn’t show me anything. You’re just a bad teammate.”

A reminder to all: Blaming the whistleblower is the opposite of bold. It's the essence of weakness. 

In a November report from The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drelich, Fiers -- who joined the A's halfway through the 2018 season -- was the first player to confirm the Astros used technology to steal signs. 

“I just want the game to be cleaned up a little bit because there are guys who are losing their jobs because they’re going in there not knowing,” Fiers said

Four people with the Astros told The Athletic the team stole signs during home games in real-time with the aid of a camera positioned in the outfield. Fiers was the only one to put his name next to his words. That's bold. That's courage. 

Martinez's issue is with Fiers publicly telling what went on behind the scenes and waiting two years to do so. This isn't a new take, but one which many are now using against Fiers, especially those who played baseball. 

“Whatever happens in the clubhouse, stays in the clubhouse, and Fiers broke the rules,” Martinez said. “I agree with cleaning up the game. I agree that the fact that the Commissioner is taking a hard hand on this, but at the same time players should not be the ones dropping the whistleblower.

“If you have integrity, you find ways to tell everybody in the clubhouse, ‘Hey, we might get in trouble for this. I don’t want to be part of this.’ You call your GM. You tell him. Or you call anybody you can or MLB or someone and say, ‘I don’t want to be part of this.’ Or you tell the team, ‘Get me out of here, I don’t want to be part of this.’ Then you show me something.

"But if you leave Houston, and most likely you didn’t agree with Houston when you left, and then you go and drop the entire team under the bus, I don’t trust you. I won’t trust you because we did have that rule.”

It's not that simple, though. Fiers said many within the Astros believed other teams already were electronically stealing signs, which made them feel less guilty about doing so. He then told his new teams -- the Detroit Tigers and A's -- in 2018 about what was going on. Fiers never says in The Athletic article if he went to the front office or coaches about the scandal. 

[RELATED: Red Sox star understands why Fiers spoke up about Astros]

Another piece to the puzzle is Fiers struggled in 2017. He went 8-10 with a 5.22 ERA in 29 appearances and was left off the postseason roster. How would it have looked if a struggling player made complaints about his own team and brought forth such serious allegations? Probably not very good. 

Whether it be a scandal like the one the Astros constructed -- and received historic punishments for -- or wrongdoing in general, guilt weighs on you. Just because a person doesn't come forward right away, it doesn't mean they didn't understand the situation was wrong. The gravity of it all can be more understood over time, as well. 

This is a lazy argument that we're sure to hear again. It needs to be put to rest, but don't expect that to happen.