Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. might still be adjusting to life in the majors but his fans won’t have to do any further adjusting to find authenticated memorabilia signed and/or used by Guerrero.
On Tuesday, May 7, the Topps Company announced that it had signed Guerrero to an exclusive memorabilia deal. Though baseball cards manufactured by other companies and autographed by Guerrero will still be able to be found by collectors, Topps Authentics will be the only place where collectors will be able to find autographed and game-used bats, balls, jerseys, photos and more.
Topps was likely incentivized to close the multi-year deal with Guerrero after his first Topps Now card shattered the previous print run record. With the memorabilia deal, Guerrero joins an exclusive company of active MLB players that includes the likes of Los Angeles Angels designated hitter/pitcher Shohei Ohtani and Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor.
Since his big-league debut on Friday, April 26, Guerrero has played in nine games for Toronto, registering 33 at-bats. The results have been less than fans had hoped for. Guerrero has just five hits, one of which was a double, and only one run batted in over those at-bats. He also has yet to hit a home run in the majors. He has four walks to 10 strikeouts and a standard batting average of .152. The Blue Jays are 4-6 since calling Guerrero up, averaging 3.2 runs scored per game in that stretch.
Both Topps and Toronto are hoping Guerrero can at least replicate, if not surpass, the success his father enjoyed in MLB. The elder Guerrero was a 2018 Baseball Hall of Fame inductee who posted a career average of .318 in 16 seasons. Playing half of those seasons for the Montreal Expos, Guerrero tallied 449 home runs, 1,496 RBIs and was the 2004 American League Most Valuable Player. The right-fielder retired after the 2011 season to see his son begin his professional career in the Blue Jays’ farm system five years later.
In Toronto’s minor-league ranks Guerrero showed some of his father’s pedigree. He had been ranked as baseball’s top overall prospect for two seasons and was the 2018 Baseball America Player of the Year on top of being the 2018 Arizona Fall League MVP. In eight games for Triple-A Buffalo this year prior to his call-up to the Blue Jays, he was batting .367 with a slugging percentage of .700. Despite the less-than-impressive numbers Guerrero has posted at the plate, Toronto has maintained it is not worried about his eventual production. It seems fans share that sentiment.
An autographed version of Guerrero’s first Bowman card is currently listed at $35,000 and other lots for similar autographed cards are also selling for five-figure prices. Autographed balls and bats, like those Topps will exclusively selling, are currently going for upwards of $300 on the secondary market.
It remains to be seen how much of the legacy his father left Guerrero will fulfill in his own MLB career. If Guerrero even comes close to the accomplishments of his namesake, the cost of the exclusive memorabilia deal will have been money well spent for Topps.