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Kyler Murray will pursue baseball career

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Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Kyler Murray was selected by the Athletics ninth overall in the first round of the 2018 draft. He’s a terrific baseball player, but he is in the midst of a Heisman Trophy-caliber season, as he has thrown 40 touchdowns and a total of 4,053 yards while rushing for 11 touchdowns and 892 yards. That has led to some uncertainty about his future as a baseball player, as he very easily could also jump into the NFL draft.

His agent Scott Boras put that to bed. He told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, “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. He will be in spring training with the A’s.”

It isn’t just Boras himself speaking for his client. Boras said, “Kyler said more than a week ago that he’s going to spring training. When people come around this kid and ask him all this stuff about his future and he said, ‘We’ll talk about it after the season,’ that’s what he’s saying. His attitude is, ‘The Oakland A’s gave me an opportunity to fulfill a personal goal in college football and when it’s complete, I’ll return to my contractual commitment.'”

Murray’s Sooners are 12-1 and headed into the College Football Playoff. He also helped the Sooners reach the 2018 Division I Baseball Championship, but his team was eliminated in the regionals. Murray, an outfielder, hit .296 with 10 home runs, 57 RBI, 46 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 189 at-bats.

From a practical standpoint, it makes sense for Murray to choose baseball over football. If he can endure the low pay — he agreed with the A’s to a signing bonus of approximately $5 million — and low quality of life of the minor leagues, and then make it to the big leagues, he will earn guaranteed money with a much lower risk of injury, particularly brain trauma.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.