Scott Boras on Bryce Harper: "No baseball person in his right mind will have the guy catch," supposedly because Harper's too good a hitter. Which seems odd, considering that Mike Piazza and Johnny Bench and Yogi Berra were pretty good hitters and were more valuable as catchers than they would have been at other positions. Craig Calcaterra:
- I don't see how you don't at least start the guy as a catcher if you're the Nationals. That is what will provide the team the most value, certainly, both for what he is and because it is much easier to fill holes elsewhere than at catcher. Indeed, one of the non-catching positions most commonly cited as a potential destination for Harper is third base, and the Nats are already set there with Mr. Zimmerman, thank you very much.
All I can think that's animating Boras here is the history of catchers having a longer road to get to the majors and the fact that the tools of ignorance lead to more wear and tear than other positions. The former consideration would potentially put off free agency for Harper. The latter would make free agency a less-valuable proposition.
Well, there's more than that. Catchers tend to get hurt, and they tend to take a while to find their sea legs. Witness Matt Wieters, Chris Iannetta, Buster Posey ... None of these guys have developed exactly the way they were supposed to. There are any number of reasons why, if you were advising a fantastic young hitter, you might advise him to play some other position.
Of course, there's one thing missing (so far) from this equation: the young hitter's opinion. According to Craig, Harper's "on record as saying he wants to catch." When you sign with Scott Boras, you don't forfeit your right to have an opinion ... but I'll bet if you were to make a list of the 100 most persuasive men in America, Boras would be on it.
And you know what? Scott Boras probably does know best. Would Bryce Harper be happier with Scott Boras, or without him?
Nobody can know. We do know that if a player doesn't have an agent, his team will steal him blind. We know that a player with Harper's talents should at least consider the next 20 years, and we know that a team really can't look beyond seven or eight years.
Boras's comment about Harper's future position don't mean much at this point. If Harper wants to catch and the Nationals want him to catch, he'll catch ... Unless Boras figures out a way to contractually prohibit such a thing. And I wouldn't put it past him.