It’s easy to forget, as he ascends to MVP status in the NFL, that Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray was, at one point, a coveted outfield prospect in MLB. Murray left the diamond to pursue NFL riches after earning Heisman honors at Oklahoma, though the Oakland A’s still retain his rights, should their former first-round pick decide to give baseball another whirl. And while Murray’s baseball career has been dormant for some time, the 24-year-old is technically eligible for the upcoming Rule 5 Draft, as noted by Melissa Lockard of The Athletic.
The qualifications for Rule 5 eligibility are a bit convoluted, but because he has yet to be promoted to the 40-man roster, Murray, who signed with Oakland in 2018, could potentially be poached by another team in December’s Rule 5 Draft.
Murray is far enough along in his NFL journey that the odds of him turning back—particularly with a nine-figure contract extension on the horizon—are slim to none. And though drafting him would be a worthy PR stunt and good exposure for a team looking to grow its brand (the Yankees did this when Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who played briefly in the minor leagues, attended their spring training), the reality is Murray hasn’t played competitive baseball in over three years. Even for a world-class athlete like Murray, that’s a long layoff to overcome. The optics of rostering Murray over a more deserving player also has the potential to ruffle feathers, similar to the farce the Mets invited by parading Tim Tebow around the minors, milking his celebrity for every last dime in one of the most blatant cash grabs you’ll ever see.
Players selected in the Rule 5 Draft must remain on the big-league roster all season. If not, that player is then returned to their original team. Examples of recent Rule 5 players include Tigers slugger Akil Baddoo and Red Sox reliever Garrett Whitlock, both of whom were chosen in last year’s draft. The Rule 5 draft is traditionally held at the Winter Meetings, though this year’s proceedings could be affected by a work stoppage with MLB’s CBA set to expire on December 1st.