You know the deal: Free agent outfielder Bryce Harper, because he's still just 26 years of age and has MVP upside, is likely going to wind up signing the largest contract in MLB history this offseason. His left-handed power and patience at the plate -- plus the possibility that he's pre-prime -- mean he's of interest to almost any team that thinks it can afford him. As for specifics, you can reportedly add the names of two traditional National League powers to his list of likely suitors.
First, there are the St. Louis Cardinals. Here's what Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports:
The team and chairman Bill DeWitt Jr., according to one industry source, are "sending signals they are out to be a player." The Cardinals intend to explore Harper's market and see how they fit, sources confirmed.
Goold's story includes more, including what the Cardinals might have in mind in terms of an upgrade at third base. As for Harper, he would surely help the St. Louis offense. First, though, they'd need to address an outfield logjam. Harrison Bader and Marcell Ozuna are entrenched in center and left, respectively. As well, Dexter Fowler, Jose Martinez, and Tyler O'Neill are in the fold. An offseason trade of Martinez, who's best suited to DH duty in the American League, seems like a distinct possibility. It's also possible that the Cardinals will eat the remainder of Fowler's contract via trade or outright release. As for O'Neill, he could be a fourth outfielder and occasionally spell Harper against tough lefties.
As for the other NL team of note, ESPN's Buster Olney writes that the San Francisco Giants make a lot of sense as a possible Harper destination. This backs up what MLB.com's Richard Justice said recently, when he said in a video appearance that the Giants have had Harper in mind as their top target "for more than a year."
Suffice it to say, the Giants need the help. They lost 98 games two seasons ago, and then in 2018, after notionally buttressing the roster for contention, they lost 89 games. What's more the Giants have a pretty terrible outfield situation at the moment. Right now, their starting outfield in 2019 is projected to be -- and we're not kidding about this -- Mac Williamson, Steven Duggar, and Gorkys Hernandez. You can certainly argue that the Giants even with Harper would not contend in 2019, but there's no doubt that Harper makes them better.
It should be noted, however, that the Giants are in search of a new general manager. They'd likely want that new front office in place before making such a high-dollar pursuit on the market. Beyond that, the idea of Harper being teammates with Hunter Strickland is compelling in the extreme.
In case you doubt the willingness and capability of each of these teams to pay the going rates for Harper, recall that both the Cardinals and Giants were in hot pursuit of Giancarlo Stanton and his record contract last offseason. While Harper figures to make more this winter, his deal figures to occupy a similar neighborhood.