With the likelihood of canceled MLB games very strong at this point, card investors may be wondering what the collecting landscape may look like. After all, it is hard to justify paying strong cards of players who aren’t playing going up in value. Surefire Hall of Famers like Mike Trout and Max Scherzer have a lower possibility of hitting important career milestones with every day of the season that has lost. Having already lost over 100 games in 2020 to the Covid epidemic, players whose careers are happening right now will always have fewer career milestones than would have been otherwise expected of them.
Fortunately, there are two categories of players whose stocks should not be impacted at all by the cancellation of games this season.
First and foremost, investors love prospects. The idea of finding “The Next Mike Trout” has always been enticing, and typically the industry sees incredibly strong prices for the game’s top prospects until they debut in the big leagues and it’s discovered that they aren’t actually Mike Trout. So why will prospects fare well throughout the lockout that the owners have implemented on the players? Simple — they’re unaffected! The lockout only pertains to players on a club’s 40-man roster. So, some prospects, like ones who were at risk of being lost in the Rule 5 Draft, or those who have already made their MLB debuts, will also be locked out. Others, like top prospects and investment darlings Jasson Dominguez and Bobby Witt Jr., are safe. They’ll continue to play in the minors as if nothing is happening. Additionally, with MLB games not going on, there will be more attention paid to minor league games.
Retired players, of course, are the other folks who won’t be impacted by the lockout. Legends never die, right? Babe Ruth isn’t hitting any fewer home runs because of the lockout; Rickey Henderson isn’t stealing fewer bases, either. Vintage cards, which have seen a huge increase in both value and interest in the past two years, could be primed for another bump. Lending more support for this theory is the knowledge that with every day games are cancelled, MLB Network has less to air on TV, which necessitates its airing of classic games and documentaries that highlight the greats of yesteryear.
I do think that some modern players will see a slight decrease if the lockout drags on for a while. But I think the overall market will remain healthy, with money from modern players moving into either prospects or legends. All that being said, the best scenario — for collectors, investors, and fans — is for the owners and players to reach a deal quickly.