Jose Abreu is off to a historically hot start. The high prices his baseball cards are fetching is a testament to that. The only question about the White Sox first baseman is whether his home run power is equal to his staying power in the eyes of collectors.
First a spoiler: there is absolutely no way Abreu keeps up this torrid pace. Kevin Maas and Chris Shelton will tell you that there will eventually be a book on him and pitchers will figure out ways to get him out. That’s not to suggest Abreu’s a flash-in-the-pan. Far from it, but nobody can keep this up for 162 games.
As a result of his sizzling start, though, Abreu cards, the few that are available anyway, are commanding prices more ridiculous than the numbers he’s put up on the South Side so far.
Abreu’s first major issue release, a 2013 Topps Tribute World Baseball Classic Edition, is now selling for around $40 on eBay, which has pushed box prices much higher. Stumble upon a short-printed parallel and the price goes up exponentially. One such red parallel, numbered 2 of 5, has an asking price of $2,499.99. There's also a gold parallel numbered to 25 for $749.99. The first gold parallel sold for $127 back in March; another for $200 three weeks ago.
Panini and Leaf both have certified – but logo-less – autograph issues. Leaf went all in on Abreu last year and got him to sign a few different inscriptions and they've been hot sellers in the $400-700 range lately but if you're just wanting a basic signed card, there are some that are available for around $75-100.
If you insist on team emblems and don’t mind waiting, word is that card No. 2 of the Mystery Redemption in the high-end 2014 Topps Museum issue is indeed Jose Abreu. That card, too, does not come cheap.
Abreu has a handful of other issues out there, including one in Topps’ newly released Gypsy Queen issue which is an affordable alternative to the slugger’s chase cards, although even that card is short printed and has several parallels to seek out.
Despite all these high-ticket items, the Abreu market is just starting to heat up. With the recent announcement that Bowman will include Abreu autographs as part of its 2014 issue scheduled to hit shelves later this week.
If Abreu does manage to maintain his seemingly untenable pace, and starts to look like the best right-handed hitter since Albert Pujols, there’s a good chance that once his signed Bowman cards start to hit the secondary market it might make for the most valuable and sought-after Bowman card since, well, Albert Pujols in 2001.
Abreu was not included in either Topps’ 2014 first series base set or in its Heritage product – but you can bet there are plans to feature the budding star prominently when Series 2 is rolled out in June.
To repeat; Jose Abreu will not keep hitting homers and driving in runs at his current pace so it would stand to reason that because of their limited supply and Abreu’s rising popularity, we are near the top of the market. That said, with certified Bowman autographs soon to hit the market and the chance that Abreu does maintain his current pace (and finish with 62 homers and 193 RBI!) then in that case the sky’s the limit.
As of right now, the 2013 Tribute WBC and fresh to the market 2014 Bowman are really the only mainstream issues of Abreu that are available.
Have to believe that Bowman issue, if Abreu does turn out to be something truly special, might be a good card to look for.