At his best, free-agent outfielder Bryce Harper is a generational talent with an incredible batter’s eye, monstrous power, and nearly elite speed. The 26-year-old has one MVP award under his belt and has long been seen as a Hall-of-Fame caliber talent.

Injuries and inconsistency have somewhat tempered his production, but even if he hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations set in his incredible 2015 campaign (42 home runs, .330/.460/.649 slash line), he’s still been very good – which comes off as disappointing when the bar is set so high.

Nevertheless, Harper is going to get a megadeal this offseason, and there will be no shortage of suitors vying to land him for the prime years of his career.

Here are five possible landing spots for Harper, though that admittedly only scratches the surface.

Philadelphia Phillies (Odds EVEN)

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The Phillies showed signs of promise in 2018, at times looking like a playoff team. They faded down the stretch, but there are a lot of pieces to like and Harper could very well be perceived as the glue that brings it all together. Having Harper and right-handed slugger Rhys Hoskins go back-to-back in the lineup would be a dream scenario.

The Phillies are expected to be aggressive in free agency and are seen as a major player for Harper, Manny Machado, and lefty Patrick Corbin.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Phillies landed more than one of their targets – they’re not exactly hamstrung by contract considerations. Before arbitration, the team’s payroll is at just below $69 million. After missing the postseason in seven straight seasons, committing big money to Harper – and others – would go a long way in restoring the Phillies to relevance.

Washington Nationals (Odds +400)

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There’s a chance Harper stays with the only team he’s ever known, even though the fit isn’t obvious anymore. Juan Soto burst onto the scene this past season, Adam Eaton will presumably be healthy, and Victor Robles has been on the cusp of major-league stardom for a couple years now.

Though Harper apparently rejected an aggressive offer from the Nationals at the end of the season, it doesn’t mean he’s out of the picture. Why wouldn’t Harper and agent Scott Boras wait and see what was available to him on the open market? Worst case scenario has Harper back in Washington with an offer akin to the one he rejected. He has leverage, though, and it’s possible the Nationals dive right back into the luxury tax with an even richer offer.

San Francisco Giants (Odds +750)

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Yes, the San Francisco Giants have won three World Series championships over the last decade and they’ve spent freely on big contracts (Jeff Samardzija, Johnny Cueto), but the last time they landed a truly life-changing player on the open market was probably 1992 when they inked Barry Bonds.

While there will certainly be think pieces written about how Harper will coexist with Hunter Strickland after their donnybrook in 2017, that wouldn’t be enough to prevent his signing. They have money despite big contracts guaranteed to the aforementioned pitchers as well as star catcher Buster Posey and ace Madison Bumgarner.

AT&T Park isn’t exactly a hitter’s haven, but Bonds conquered McCovey Cove. Bringing Harper in to do the same may prove too tempting to resist.

New York Yankees (Odds +800)

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Say goodbye to the scruffy Harper, and say hello to fresh-faced wonderboy. Machado seems like a more logical fit based on need, but how hard would it be to envision Harper slotting into left field? Aaron Judge stays in right, Aaron Hicks continues to patrol center, and Brett Gardner serves as the fourth outfielder with Giancarlo Stanton occasionally rotating out from the designated hitter spot. It leaves Jacoby Ellsbury and Clint Frazier in a proverbial no-man’s land, but it’s a good problem to have for the Yankees.

Alternately, there have been rumblings that Harper could transition to first base, which would solve that problem. Boras said that Harper takes grounders at first throughout the offseason and could adapt to the position, according to Casey Stern of MLB Network Radio.

With Yankee Stadium’s short porch in right field, his left-handed power bat would play nicely in the heart of that lineup. Even if pitching has been singled out as the Yankees’ number one priority by general manager Brian Cashman, it’d be foolish to think the opportunity to add an MVP-caliber bat is being overlooked.

Los Angeles Angels (Odds +1500)

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Imagine having Harper hit behind Mike Trout in the heart of the Angels’ lineup for the next decade. It could happen, and the Angels need to at least consider it despite desperately needing to overhaul the pitching staff. The Albert Pujols contract hurts, and Los Angeles has almost $117 million in salary locked up between six players prior to arbitration.

Still, adding Harper would certainly boost the team’s marketability and would make it easier to forget that the rotation is held together by duct tape and bubblegum.

The Angels have rarely shied away from spending largely in free agency. They gave Pujols a 10-year $240-million contract before 2012 that gets more expensive with every passing season. That same year, they signed lefty C.J. Wilson to a five-year, $77.5-million deal and snagged outfielder Josh Hamilton with a five-year, $125-million contract the following season. Plus, they re-worked a deal with Justin Upton into a five-year, $106-million pact through 2022.

Signing Harper would require some changes – which may come in the form of trading Kole Calhoun to make room in the outfield – especially with Shohei Ohtani serving as the designated hitter. If that happens, a core consisting of Trout, Upton, Harper, Ohtani, and Andrelton Simmons will be able to go toe-to-toe with anyone.

(Payroll figures courtesy of: Spotrac)
(Odds courtesy of: Bovada)

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