Athletics

A's prospect Kyler Murray will enter 2019 NFL Draft after Heisman season

A's prospect Kyler Murray will enter 2019 NFL Draft after Heisman season

The answer to "will he or won't he?" He will. 

Less than a year after the A's picked him in the top 10 of the MLB draft, two-sport star Kyler Murray announced ahead of Monday's deadline that he will enter the 2019 NFL Draft. 

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Murray submitted his paperwork to declare for the draft back on Friday, and that he has already notified the A's of his decision.

Oakland drafted the 21-year-old ninth overall in the 2018 MLB Draft last June, and signed off on him returning to the University of Oklahoma to play football in the fall. Murray, who backed up Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield during the 2017 season, was named the Sooners' starting quarterback in September.

Murray quickly established himself as one of the best players in college football. He threw for 4,361 yards and 42 touchdowns, and ran for 1,001 yards and 12 touchdowns. His 54 total touchdowns were tied for the ninth-most by a player in a single season in college football history, and Murray won the Heisman Trophy after his historic campaign. 

Agent Scott Boras insisted last month that Murray would report to spring training, but rumors persisted that Murray would opt to play football. Recent mock drafts projected Murray could be selected in the first round by an NFL team, but the A's were reportedly willing to put Murray on their 40-man roster in order to convince him to play baseball. Marketing executives from MLB were reportedly involved in the meetings, too, in order to show Murray what off-field opportunities would arise if he chose the diamond over the gridiron. 

Should Murray ultimately play in the NFL, he will have to pay back the A's the $4.66 million signing bonus he received in June. If he is a first-round pick in April, Murray would receive more guaranteed money from the NFL than he did with the A's, based on signing bonuses 2018's NFL first-rounders received.

Peter Gammons suggests A's could trade Marcus Semien in near future

Peter Gammons suggests A's could trade Marcus Semien in near future

Marcus Semien enjoyed a career-year in just about every way imaginable this past season. The Cal product had a dream season in every sense of the word for the A's. 

But how long will the Bay Area native's tenure last in Oakland? History suggests Semien's time with the A's could be running out, which makes longtime baseball writer Peter Gammons believe the star shortstop might be on the move in the near future. 

"David Forst and Billy Beane love this A's team ... they especially love Semien, who's the leader of this team," Gammons said Wednesday on MLB Network. "He's a local guy, he was born in Berkeley right down the road. But, we still don't know what's gonna happen with the ballpark.

"It's fine to say eventually we're gonna get it, but by the time they actually get the ballpark opened, Marcus is gonna be old enough to run for president, so he might not be interested in staying in Oakland." 

Harsh but possibly true. The A's are, however, a step closer to getting a new stadium built in Oakland. On Nov. 13, the Oakland City Council directed the City Attorney to immediately drop Oakland's lawsuit against Alameda County, paving the way for the sale of the Coliseum.

"We are pleased that the Oakland City Council has directed the City Attorney to immediately drop this lawsuit," A's President Dave Kaval said in a team statement. "We are committed to the long-term success of East Oakland and the Coliseum site. We look forward to finalizing our agreement with Alameda County, and creating a mutually beneficial partnership with the City of Oakland."

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred previously had warned Oakland officials in October to drop the lawsuit for fear of losing the team to relocation.

The A's plan to open a waterfront ballpark at Howard Terminal near Jack London Square for the 2023 season. Semien would be 32 years old by then, and certainly could still be putting up huge numbers. 

This past season, Semien played in all 162 games and had career-highs across the board. He hit .285 with 33 homers, finished third in AL MVP voting and was worth 8.1 bWAR. While Semien's breakout year at the plate was huge, his improvement on defense was even more incremental. Semien used to be a detriment to the A's at shortstop, but he was a Gold Glove finalist last season. 

"Somewhere along the line, he's gonna be a fascinating person either for the future of the A's or for somebody else in the future," Gammons said.

Semien is expected to earn nearly $14 million in arbitration this offseason and becomes a free agent after next season. Signing Semien to a long-term contract would energize the fan base and help the product on the field. As we've seen many times in the past, however, it's not that easy with the A's. 

[RELATED: Where A's MVP finalist Marcus Semien wants to improve]

“That’s a first-world problem when your shortstop is pricing himself out of your market,” Beane told NBC Sports California in September.

The ball's in your court, Billy. The A's will have to pay up for Semien's services in the near future or once again face the disappointment of their fans.

A's DFA RHP Jharel Cotton, add Daulton Jefferies to 40-man roster

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A's DFA RHP Jharel Cotton, add Daulton Jefferies to 40-man roster

Jharel Cotton made 24 starts for the A's in 2017. After two years ravaged from injuries, the right-hander was designated for assignment on Wednesday. 

The A's DFA'd Cotton to make room on the 40-man roster for pitching prospect Daulton Jefferies. 

Cotton, 27, went 2-0 with a 2.15 ERA over five starts as a rookie in 2016. He looked like someone primed to have a place in the rotation for years to come. But he struggled with his command and had a 5.58 ERA in 2017. 

Cotton underwent Tommy John surgery in March 2018, and looked to make his return to the big leagues this past season. He missed all of June with a hamstring injury while rehabbing in the minors, and never found his rhythm on the mound.

Over 18 minor league outings -- 14 in Triple-A, four in Advanced Single-A -- Cotton pitched just 27 2/3 innings in 2019. He finished 1-3 with a 7.16 ERA. 

The A's will be on the hunt for pitching depth this offseason, but Cotton likely will not be a part of the future anymore. 

Oakland added Jefferies to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. The Cal product put up big numbers in his first full season since Tommy John surgery. 

Jefferies, 24, underwent the surgery in 2017 after two games and tossed only two innings of Rookie ball in 2018. He was back to healthy this season and showed why he's one of the A's top prospects. 

[RELATED: Five relievers A's could target during MLB free agency]

Between Advanced Single-A Stockton and Double-A Midland, Jeffries went 2-2 with a 3.42 ERA this past season. He appeared in 26 games -- 15 starts -- and struck out 93 batters in 79 innings. 

Jefferies is ranked as the A's No. 12 prospect by MLB Pipeline, and could possibly push for his MLB debut in 2020.