This will generate a lot of backlash from sports fans everywhere, but if Kyler Murray opts to play football and backs out of the deal he signed with the A’s, they should sue him.
Hear me out.
I am a guy who believes in handshake deals, but in my line of work, handshake deals are not deals – you have to put everything in writing. So, if something is put in writing and signed off on, the deal is done. In other words, a contract is a contract. Unless Oakland held a gun to your head while signing, you have a deal in place that is not breakable or renegotiable.
Now, I understand that under certain circumstances all contracts can be broken, but those are usually covered somewhere in the contract ahead of time. So the conundrum the A’s find themselves in is a product of one of two things: either they were lied to or they are stupid for taking him.
I am sure this situation was discussed before the A’s drafted him. Surely, the A’s were under the assumption that no matter what happened this season in football, he was going to honor his baseball commitment. At that point it was like a handshake deal, since Murray couldn’t sign a contract before being drafted. Once he signed the deal after being drafted, he was under a contract. That is where he is coming close to a breach of contract now.
Don’t get me wrong: his situation has changed and I understand that his leverage is huge, but he has a deal in place. Renegotiating that deal should be off the table. If the A’s understood there was a chance he could go pro in football, then they are stupid for drafting for him. But if they were told not to worry and used a 9th overall pick on him, they were lied to.
We are living in a day and age of quitting when things don’t go your way. If the A’s redo their deal, it sends a horrible message. It says you can back out of any deal once you attain any leverage. That’s where I have a problem. If you sign a contract then honor it. I have no issue if both parties wish to renegotiate a contract in the middle of it, but he hasn’t even started playing baseball yet. Plus, MLB has strict rules on draft compensation for the first ten rounds. The A’s may have a valid grievance if he backs out of their deal.
Word is that the A’s top brass were in Dallas trying to sweeten their deal with Murray. That is ridiculous, in my opinion. Their stance should be: either you show up for spring training or we will see you in court. Getting back the signing bonus isn’t enough – there should be a penalty for breach of contract. (FYI, I am not a lawyer so I could be talking out of my rear end)
But if his deal is sweetened, then why can’t Shohei Ohtani get his deal renegotiated? What prevents a first round pick this year from backing out after signing their contract? If MLB wants to redo their bonus structure and rules on draft compensation, then do it. But as of now there are rules in place that must be honored.
Of course, the A’s should have done better homework. Murray has already proven he will back out when things don’t go his way. He left A&M because he wasn’t the starter his freshman year. He transferred to OU after one season. Oakland has some fault in all of this.
My personal opinion is that he is not an NFL QB. He is 5’9 and NFL linebackers are as fast as he is. He is, however, a legit baseball prospect. As a Texas Ranger blogger and fan, it is good for the Rangers if he pursues football, but I am no nonsense when it comes to contracts. You have to honor them. If Kyler Murray decides to play football, the Oakland A’s should sue him for more than his signing bonus.
Photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
January 14, 2019 at 9:25 am
Interesting thoughts John. It would be interesting for law nerds like me to see the actual terms of the A’s contract to see if it addressed things like this. No contract can compel someone to work (thank you Thirteenth Amendment), but they can prohibit competing work or provide liquidated damages for breach. Absent that, the usual penalty for breaching an employment contract is just getting fired and forfeiting the money offered. Compensation for the wasted draft pick should come from MLB not Kyler. And on behalf of the 5’9″ and under community, I’d like to see him in the next Pro Bowl! 🙂