The Nationals, after drafting Bryce Harper, elected to move him from catcher to the outfield.
It’s always interesting when ballclubs attempt to move players from their natural positions. Sometimes it goes well, sometimes it doesn’t. In Harper’s case, it hasn’t been a disaster, but it’s clear that he’s a defensive liability out in right field.
Sure, you can attempt to “hide” him out there, since that particular part of the field doesn’t see as much action, but opposing teams know that as well, and they’re aware that a lot of balls hit in that area end up being surefire doubles.
Harper is seeking a $400 million payday, but will teams pay that solely for his offensive production?
Not only that, Harper actually ranks last among right-fielders in both defensive WAR and Ultimate Zone Rating. UZR pertains to what the result of a play is (hit, out, error) compared to the average player. And that’s nothing new, either.
He can really rake, but his defensive liability could give teams pause for concern as it relates to the ridiculous payday he and superagent Scott Boras are seeking.