Bryce Harper Nationals Cardinals
Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals hits a double in the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park on September 5, 2018 in Washington, DC. Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

A potential suitor for MLB’s top two free agents appears to be out of the running. After making a trade for Paul Goldschmidt, the St. Louis Cardinals are no longer a realistic landing spot for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado.

St. Louis had been looking to make a splash by acquiring one of the game’s best hitters. That came Wednesday when the team sent three players and a draft pick to the Arizona Diamondbacks for their new first basemen. The six-time All-Star is owed $14.5 million on the final year of his contract, and the Cardinals will look to re-sign him instead of throwing money at Harper or Machado.

There was already speculation that Harper’s contract demands might take the Cardinals out of the running for the 2015 NL MVP. The outfielder reportedly turned down a 10-year, $300 million contract from the Washington Nationals at the end of the season, and he could be looking to make history with a deal closer to $350 million.

Still, the Cardinals were considered to be real players for Harper. It was just a few days ago that a Yahoo Sports report said St. Louis had a well-known “affection” for the 26-year-old.

Even if the Cardinals had the money to spend, the acquisition of Goldschmidt might have removed St. Louis from contention to sign Machado. The trade will send Matt Carpenter from first base back to third base, where he played almost exclusively a few years ago.

From last offseason through the 2018 All-Star Game, there were rumors that the Cardinals might trade for Machado. The infielder was traded by the Baltimore Orioles to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for five prospects.

Goldschmidt is five years older than Harper and Machado, but he might be a more productive hitter than either superstar over the next few seasons.

The 31-year-old had a .922 OPS in 2018, surpassing the .900 mark for the fifth time in six years. Harper had a .889 OPS in 2018, falling below .900 for the second time in three years. Machado’s .905 OPS last season was a career high.