Last Updated On: November 16th, 2023
November 16th Important Update: It’s official! Ohtani and Acuña have each won the MVP award for the 2023 season as widely expected. As you read through this post to understand how much store credit you can earn, and which cards to target for each player, you can safely ignore Freddie Freeman and Mookie Betts cards (at least for buyback purposes, still phenomenal players!).
Sitting on a 2023 Topps Chrome Shohei Ohtani card? A 2023 Topps Chrome Ronald Acuña, Jr.? You may be in for a nice payday!
In 2022, Topps trotted out a relatively novel marketing gimmick: the MVP buyback program. A year later, the Topps MVP buyback program is back, with the manufacturer offering up to $200 to purchase its own product.
In this post, you’ll learn about the 2023 Topps buyback program, when it starts, cards to target, and how to get a jumpstart on the competition.
Let’s get to it!
Table of Contents
What is the Topps MVP Buyback Program?
The concept behind the Topps MVP Buyback program is simple and requires the following steps, according to Topps:
- Buy 2023 Topps Chrome and Topps Chrome Logofractor products and collect the MVP candidates
- Once the MVPs are announced in November, bring those 2023 Topps Chrome cards to your local hobby shop
- Exchange the AL and NL MVP cards for store credit!
In other words, the Buyback Program is a marketing program designed to get folks interested in buying up Topps Chrome baseball cards. 2022 was the first year the program ran, with Paul Goldschmidt’s #82 and Aaron Judge’s #99 being the qualifying cards after the duo were named NL and AL MVP, respectively.
Buyback has a long tradition in sports card collecting. Traditionally, a buyback card is one that a company actually purchases and then inserts back into a future set, usually with a stamp or autograph on it. That’s actually exactly what Topps did with the 2022 MVPs – some of the returned cards were stamped or autographed and re-inserted in the 2023 set.
Since we won’t know who the AL or NL MVPs are until November, collectors have to simply wait, collect, and see if their gambles will pay off! But more on that in a moment.
How Long Does the Topps MVP Buyback run?
The Topps MVP Buyback program began in earnest in late June, 2023, when Topps announced the program would come back for a second year. But officially, the program doesn’t start until the AL and NL MVPs are announced in November.
The end date for this season’s MVP Buyback program has not been announced by Topps, but in 2022 the program ran until the end of March 2023 if that’s any indication.
What can be Bought With Buyback Credit?
Topps has given pretty wide discretion to the individual card shops as to what counts under the buyback credit. For instance, while there’s no limit to the total number of cards you can collect under the buyback program, it’s up to the shops to determine how many they are willing to exchange for store credit.
Be sure to check if your local card shop is participating in the Topps MVP buyback program (scroll down till you see the map).
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What Products Qualify for the Topps Buyback Program?
Boxes featuring 2023 Topps Chrome cards were released on July 26, 2023 and come in three forms: Hobby, Jumbo, and Blaster Value. In addition, Logofractor Edition boxes released at the end of September, 2023.
Here are the specs for each of those boxes, according to Beckett. Each box is linked to corresponding eBay searches if you’re in the mood to crack a box!
Note: the affiliate links in the table below execute eBay searches for the products mentioned.
|2023 Topps Chrome Box Type||Cards per Pack||Packs per Box||Price per Box|
|Logofractor Edition||4 cards in Chrome packs|
5 cards in Logofractor packs
|7 (5 Chrome packs + 2 Logofractor packs)||$150|
The Topps Chrome set includes 220 total cards for reference. The Topps Chrome Logofractor Edition is 110 cards in total.
How to Gain an Advantage Before MVP Winners are Announced
Oddsmakers are constantly updating MVP odds for both the AL and NL. By announcing the MVP buyback program early, Topps is essentially asking collectors to gamble on which players they think will take home the title.
While never a guarantee, collectors (and baseball fans) have a pretty good idea of which players will be crowned MVPs of the 2023 season.
Probable 2023 MVP Winners: Ohtani and Acuña Jr.
If the season ended today, Los Angeles Angels stud Shohei Ohtani and Atlanta Braves star Ronald Acuña, Jr. would be the probable winners. Most sportsbooks have Ohtani a -8000 favorite to take home the award in the American League, while Acuña’s odds have solidified to around -700 even with a surge in Mookie’s recent performance.
It’s impossible to overstate how great of a season Ohtani has had for the Angels. A standout pitcher and hitter, he’s a throwback to the days of Babe Ruth, when the distinction between a hitter and pitcher were naught. With Ohtani sidelined for the remainder of the season due to injury, he has fallen behind in wins and strikeouts, although he still ranks 7th in the AL in ERA. As a hitter, he’s hit the most home runs and owns the AL’s top slugging rate, ranks 7th in WAR, and 2nd for on-base percentage.
The Angels, meanwhile, have seen their postseason dreams crushed as they angled for their first postseason berth since 2014. Even so, Ohtani remains a solid MVP lock which would be the second MVP award of his early career.
Acuña, meanwhile, has been the best player on baseball’s best team. The Braves have topped 100 games won and the outfielder ranks 2nd in the NL in WAR, 1st in runs, and 1st in stolen bases. He’s also 1st in hits and 2nd in batting average this season with just a few games left.
While Ohtani and Acuña remain the favorites, it’s important to remember the race isn’t sewn up yet (although it’s sure looking like a lock soon).
What Cards Qualify and at What Value in Store Credit?
The Topps MVP Buyback program only applies to 2023 Topps Chrome and Topps Chrome Logofractor products that feature the AL and NL MVP.
Topps has allotted the following values of redeemable store credit per card type:
- Base – $20
- Refractors – $40
- Parallels /# over 100 – $100
- Parallels /# under 100 – $200
For reference, in 2023 Topps Chrome Ohtani’s card is #17, Acuña’s is #39, Freeman is #5, and Betts is #150.
Keep in mind: Topps released non-numbered and numbered parallels in its 2023 set. The non-numbered parallels are valued at $40, while the numbered cards depend on the print run/numbering. For instance, a Blue Refractor is /150 and would be worth $100. But the Green Refractor /99 would be worth $200.
Here is the parallel checklist from the 2023 Topps Chrome Baseball set:
|Base||Base Chrome Card||$20|
|Refractor||Refractor, Frozenfractors, Negative Refractors, Prism Refractors, Pink Refractors, Sepia Refractors, X-Fractors||$40|
|Parallel /# over 100||Magenta Refractors – /399, Magenta Speckle Refractors – /350, Purple Speckle Refractors – /299, Sonar Purple Refractors – /275, Purple Refractors – /250, Aqua Refractors – /199, Aqua Lava Refractors – /199, Blue Refractors – /150, Sonar Blue Refractors – /125||$100|
|Parallel /# under 100||Green Refractors – /99, Green Wave Refractors – /99, Sonar Green Refractors – /99, Green Speckle Refractors – /99, Wave Refractors – /75, Gold Refractors – /50, Gold Wave Refractors – /50, Gold Speckle Refractors – /50, Orange Refractors – /25 , Orange Wave Refractors – /25, Orange Speckle Refractors — /25, Red Refractors – /5, Red Wave Refractors – /5, Red Speckle Refractors – /5, Printing Plates – 1/1, Superfractors – 1/1, Logofractor Rose Gold Refractors — 1/1||$200|
Card Prices and History for Probable MVP Winners
It’s no surprise that prices for Ohtani and Acuña 2023 Topps Chrome cards are higher than their peers. Given the fact that Topps announced the buyback program before the release of the Topps Chrome series, the card prices for Ohtani and Acuña have started high and stayed there. In fact, sellers have shrewdly put “buyback” in the card description on sites like eBay. CardLadder is already seeing cards sell for around $15 for the base, $35 for the refractor, and upwards of $75 and $100 for the numbered parallels. The same is generally true for Acuña, as well.
Freeman, meanwhile, shows just how vast the MVP gulf is between the NL favorite and runner-up. His cards have been selling for a few dollars here and there, including cards numbered to just /99.
Is the Topps MVP Buyback Program Worth it in the end?
The biggest drawback to the program is probably the store credit. In a hobby where collectors are used to selling cards for cold hard cash, store credit might feel like a real downgrade.
But think about it this way – how valuable really is a 2023 Topps Chrome Shohei Ohtani card without the program? One way to gauge its non-buyback value is by looking at its 2022 equivalent. According to Goldin, a graded PSA 9 Topps Chrome Shohei Ohtani refractor can be had for around $20. Think about how much money was put into that card – the amount to purchase it, either in a pack, online, or in a shop, plus at least $20 to have it graded. Now, to get half that in store credit, a collector would have to spend more money on gas and drive to a participating shop (or pay for shipping if there aren’t any shops nearby).
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That same refractor card, ungraded, could land a collector $40 in store credit as part of the Topps MVP buyback program. When put that way, it seems like the program is a no-brainer.
Of course, it’s not that simple. As we’ve seen, prices for an Ohtani 2023 Topps Chrome have gone up since the announcement. At the same time he’s building momentum on an already monster season which is likely juicing his card prices further. It’s not quite as easy as buying a card for $2.50 and flipping it for $40 anymore.
That said, the Topps MVP buyback program is a fun gimmick that keeps hobbyists interested in a card besides a player’s rookie. It also creates a sense of buzz and hype around a hobby that’s fallen off a bit from its early 2020s boom.
Like most things in card collecting, the same logic applies to the buyback program: if you can get a card for a steal (and have a participating card shop nearby or don’t mind paying for shipping), it’s probably worth it. But paying $20 and for shipping to get $20 in store credit might be a tougher sell.