MLB and MLBPA has decided to not renew their contracts with Topps. Instead, Fanatics gets the exclusive card deal. Starting in 2026, Fanatics will have BOTH the exclusive MLB and MLBPA trading card contract. Bizarre to think that in 2026 Topps will no longer produce baseball cards.
But it gets a little complicated, because there are two separate contracts with the MLB and the MLBPA that have different dates of expiration. (MLBPA is the MLB Players Association.)
- A contract with the MLB allows you to make cards with the team logos.
- A contract with the MLBPA allows you to make cards with players’ images and player’s names.
As an example, Painini has a contract with the MLBPA, but not with the MLB. Thus, they can make cards with the players images, but they cannot use logos in the designs, and they have to photoshop out the logos on the players’ uniforms.
How does the timing for each MLB and MLBPA work out?
Here’s the facts that we know:
- MLB: Topps’ license with MLB expires at the end of 2025.
- MLBPA: Panini and Topps’ license with the MLBPA expires at the end of 2022.
- What happens in 2023 and 2024 when Topps has a MLB license, but not a MLBPA license? Topps can make cards with team logos, but no players?
- When does the Fanatics deal start? Per sportspromedia, it looks like Fanatics’ deal starts when the Topps deals end.
Let’s put together a draft timeline based on the facts we know:
2021: Cards produced by Topps and Panini as normal.
2022: Cards produced by Topps and Panini as normal.
– 2022 fact: Last year of Topps deal with MLBPA
– 2022 fact: Last year of Panini deal with MLBPA
– 2022 fact: Topps still has deal with MLB
2023 guess: Fanatics starts making cards of MLB players, but no logos
2023: Not sure if Topps can still make baseball cards.
– 2023 fact: First year of Fanatics deal with MLBPA
– 2023 fact: Topps still has deal with MLB
– 2023 fact: Topps no longer has deal with MLBPA
– 2023 fact: Painin no longer has deal with MLBPA
2024 guess: Fanatics continues making cards of MLB players, but no logos
2024: Not sure if Topps can still make baseball cards.
– 2024 fact: 2nd year of Fanatics deal with MLBPA
– 2024 fact: Topps still has deal with MLB
2025 guess: Fanatics continues making cards of MLB players, but no logos
2025: Not sure if Topps can still make baseball cards.
– 2025 fact: 3rd year of Fanatics deal with MLBPA
– 2025 fact: Topps still has deal with MLB
2026 fact: Fanatics starts making cards of MLB players with logos.
– 2026 fact: 4th year of Fanatics deal with MLBPA
– 2026 fact: 1st of Fanatics deal with MLB
– 2026 fact: Topps no longer has deal with MLB
What happens with baseball cards during 2023-2025?
It’s possible that the baseball card industry will have THREE years of cards being produced with no team logos. Generic crap cards for three solid years.
It seems so odd.
I wonder who dropped the ball on this. If it was Topps who was being stubborn or MLB being greedy.
Topps and MLB is a symbiotic relationship. They both benefit from each other. If baseball is about anything, it’s about the legacy and long continued history and tradition. Topps and MLB is definitely a large part of this tradition.
I’m guessing that MLB got greedy and wanted more money from the deal. As part of this Fanatics deal, MLB is getting a larger investment from Fanatics.
At the end of the day
All I want is to be able to buy a $1 pack of cards every now and then. Cards that have players and team logos. That’s all—whoever makes them. I want affordable cards. Would I prefer that Topps makes them? Sure. I like that legacy. But really, the main point is affordable cards. I don’t need foiled autograph artifact cards. Just simple cardboard with a players, stats, and team logos.