MLB, MLBPA reportedly have new trading card agreement with Fanatics, will end partnership with Topps

·2-min read

The longtime partnership between MLB and Topps Co. is reportedly coming to an end. MLB and the MLBPA have reportedly agreed to hand over their exclusive trading card agreement to Fanatics Inc., according to Jared Diamond and Andrew Beaton of the Wall Street Journal.

The MLBPA's deal with Fanatics will reportedly begin in 2023. MLB's current contract with Topps runs through 2025. Once the deal is official, it will end a 70-year partnership between MLB and Topps, which has been the main baseball card manufacturer since the early 1950s, according to the WSJ. 

"Topps has been the premier baseball-card manufacturer since the early 1950s, originally packaging the cards with bubble gum. Its 1952 Mickey Mantle card is one of the most iconic and expensive cards ever produced, with one selling for $5.2 million earlier this year. The company remains synonymous with baseball cards to this day," the WSJ reported.

The move, if it becomes official, will be a massive blow for Topps, which is about to go public.

Topps, MLB and the MLBPA have not commented on the report.

Why is MLB reportedly ending its partnership with Topps?

MLBPA head Tony Clark reportedly sent a memo to players Thursday discussing the new deal with Fanatics, according to the Wall Street Journal. In the memo, Clark reportedly mentions the deal with Fanatics is 10 times bigger than any deal ever struck by the union. 

Topps reportedly paid the MLBPA $20.4 million last year to use player likenesses on cards. It's unclear how much Fanatics will pay for player likenesses, or if Topps will try to secure deals with other professional sports leagues now that their partnership with MLB is reportedly coming to an end.

Topps baseball card of Mickey Mantle.
Topps is responsible for some of the most expensive baseball cards ever. (Photo by Matt Dirksen/Colorado Rockies/Getty Images)

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