It looks like our dreams of seeing a pitcher-catcher tandem of Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper are gone. With the news comes questions of whether or not it's a good idea to move Harper away from his natural position.
Dave Harper at Fangraphs took a look at the hitting statistics of franchise catchers in comparison with other positions, and concludes that moving Harper to the outfield is a good thing:
Perhaps we've all been spoiled by the presence of Piazza, Joe Mauer, and Jorge Posada over the last 20 years, but in reality, there are just a handful of big league catchers in the history of the game who have been able to both endure a career behind the plate and wield an impact bat at the same time.
By all accounts, Harper's bat has a chance to be extremely special. If he makes it to stardom, it will be his offense that carries him there, not his work behind the plate. Moving him to the outfield will not be a waste of his value any more than it was when the Blue Jays moved Carlos Delgado to first base, the Astros moved Craig Biggio to second base, or the Braves moved Dale Murphy to center field. Harper can be plenty valuable as a power hitting athletic outfielder, and he can play until he's 40 out there.
In much the same way that the Nationals have been extremely cautious with Stephen Strasburg's pitch counts this season, the Nationals are going to do everything they can to protect the long-term value of Bryce Harper. Moving Harper to the outfield to cut down on the wear and tear he would endure behind the plate will help maximize Harper's output, both now and in the future.