Athletics

Why Kyler Murray picking the NFL wouldn't be end of the world for A's

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AP

Why Kyler Murray picking the NFL wouldn't be end of the world for A's

The A's fully knew the risks involved when they chose Kyler Murray ninth overall in the 2018 MLB Draft.

Billy Beane and Co. decided Murray's unique talent made him worth a roll of the dice. Unfortunately, it looks like it came up snake eyes.

The A's expect Murray to declare for the 2019 NFL Draft, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, which reported he is leaning toward playing professional football over baseball. A team source told NBC Sports California that if Murray attends the NFL Scouting Combine in late February, rather than spring training, he is "as good as gone."

At first glance, this feels like a disaster for the A's. While they would recoup the nearly $5 million signing bonus they gave Murray, they would not receive a compensatory draft pick, meaning they wasted the selection.

However, the MLB draft is a bit different than its counterparts in the NFL and NBA. When a football or basketball team makes a poor first-round pick, it can set the franchise back years. In baseball, the draft is more of a crap shoot, where late-round selections often have as much success as first-rounders.

Just look at the sheer number of players selected in the MLB draft compared to the other sports. The 2018 baseball draft featured a staggering 40 rounds and more than 1,200 picks. Basketball's draft lasts just two rounds. Football's goes seven.

Even if Murray decided to play baseball, there is no guarantee he would ever reach the big leagues. There have been countless first-round picks who haven't panned out the way teams had hoped.

Between 2000 and 2015, the A's owned at least one first-round selection in 14 of the 16 drafts. Here is a breakdown of their first selection each year:

2015: Richie Martin - 20th overall
2014: Matt Chapman - 25th overall
2013: Billy McKinney - 24th overall
2012: Addison Russell - 11th overall
2011: Sonny Gray - 18th overall
2010: Michael Choice - 10th overall
2009: Grant Green - 13th overall
2008: Jemile Weeks - 12th overall
2007: James Simmons - 26th overall
2006: No pick
2005: Cliff Pennington - 21st overall
2004: Landon Powell - 24th overall
2003: Brad Sullivan - 23rd overall
2002: Nick Swisher - 16th overall
2001: Bobby Crosby - 21st overall
2000: No pick

Of that group, less than half truly made an impact at the major league level. For every Matt Chapman or Nick Swisher, there is a Brad Sullivan or Michael Choice. Heck, the A's let Richie Martin go for nothing in last month's Rule 5 Draft.

It's not just the A's that have had their share of draft misses. Here's a breakdown of No. 9 overall picks (where Kyler Murray was selected) between 2000 and 2015:

2015: Ian Happ - Cubs
2014: Jeff Hoffman - Blue Jays
2013: Austin Meadows - Pirates
2012: Andrew Heaney - Marlins
2011: Javier Baez - Cubs
2010: Karsten Whitson - Padres
2009: Jacob Turner - Tigers
2008: Aaron Crow - Nationals
2007: Jarrod Parker - Diamondbacks
2006: Billy Rowell - Orioles
2005: Mike Pelfrey - Mets
2004: Chris Nelson - Rockies
2003: John Danks - Rangers
2002: Jeff Francis - Rockies
2001: Colt Griffin - Royals
2000: Mark Phillips - Padres

Be honest, how many of those names have you even heard of? Obviously, Javy Baez turned into a star for the Cubs, but the majority of these picks didn't pan out.

Is the Murray situation ideal? Of course not. A's fans have a right to be upset any time a first-round pick doesn't work out. But just remember, Murray wouldn't be the first draft bust, and he certainly wouldn't be the last.

What Matt Olson injury means for A's offense, defense at first base

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AP/USATSI

What Matt Olson injury means for A's offense, defense at first base

The A's fears became a reality Friday when Gold Glove first baseman Matt Olson had to undergo surgery on his right hand.

No timetable has been provided for Olson's return, but a 2018 article in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine which studied similar procedures suggests he will likely miss three to seven weeks.

This is obviously a huge loss for Oakland. Beyond Olson's terrific defense, the 24-year-old provided tremendous power in the middle of the lineup.

Last season, Olson slashed .247/.335/.453 with 29 home runs and 84 RBI. That production won't be easy to replace, but the A's do have some reasonable options.

Platoon players Mark Canha and Chad Pinder can both play first base, and carry plenty of power in their bats. Canha clubbed 17 home runs and 22 doubles last year in just 365 at-bats. Pinder, meanwhile, hit 28 homers in 580 at-bats over the last two seasons.

Another option for the A's is to move Jurickson Profar to first base -- where he played 24 games last year -- and start Franklin Barreto at second. Barreto is coming off a terrific spring, hitting .375 (12-for-32) with a home run, four doubles, three RBI, five walks, and eight runs scored.

Barreto now has a great chance to make the 25-man roster in Olson's place. The 23-year-old has long been considered one of the A's top prospects, but has never had a chance to get consistent playing time in the big leagues. Oakland moved him from second base to the outfield this spring, but now a return to second makes sense.

[RELATED: Can A's regroup after rough beginning to season?]

The A's are fortunate to have enough offensive depth to survive the loss of Olson, but the biggest impact will likely show up on defense. Olson's height and scooping ability at first base will be incredibly hard to replace.

Nonetheless, Oakland showed the ability to overcome injury adversity last season. The A's just have to do it again this year.

A's first baseman Matt Olson undergoes surgery on his right hand

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AP

A's first baseman Matt Olson undergoes surgery on his right hand

The A's announced on Friday that 2018 Gold Glove first baseman Matt Olson underwent successful right hamate excision surgery on his right hand. The surgery was performed in Los Angeles by Dr. Steven Shin:

Olson left Thursday's game against the Mariners in Japan due to some discomfort in his right hand as he was having some trouble gripping his bat. 

While we are unsure how long Olson will be out, this article in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine states similar injuries could sideline players from three to seven weeks with the median time ranging around five weeks.

For now, the A's do have Mark Canha who can play first base. Jurickson Profar is always an option as well since he can play anywhere. But he covers so much range in the middle of the infield, picturing him anywhere else but second base seems strange.

We knew this was looking like bad news when it happened, but now that we know for sure, the A's need to figure out a more direct plan knowing the team is without their first baseman and a very powerful bat to start out the season.