15 Most Valuable 1986 Topps Traded Baseball Cards

Most Valuable 1986 Topps Traded Baseball Cards


Whenever I look through the 1986 Topps Traded baseball card set, it's one of the few times when a checklist leaves me with mixed feelings.

Many of these guys could almost form a who's who of careers that ended disappointingly in one way or another...

Barry Bonds was a generational talent, but his connection to PEDs clouds his legacy.

And that goes for Jose Canseco, too, thought not quite on the same scale.

Other guys like Bo Jackson and Will Clark had their careers thrown off by injuries.

And then there are cases like Kevin Mitchell and Bobby Bonilla, who possessed incredible talent but came up short of their true greatness.

Wally Joyner started brilliantly but never seemed to live up to the hype after his first two seasons.

Despite some of their disappointing career trajectories, many of these guys' cards can still be worth a decent amount.

And in this guide, we'll take a look at the 15 most valuable.

Let's jump right in!

Ross Uitts

Ross Uitts - Owner

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Let's be clear: most of the cards from this set do not have any value these days.

Like the 1986 Donruss, Fleer and Topps sets, large print runs saturated the market with these cards, driving down their values.

So, for the cards on this list to be worth much, they'll have to be graded by PSA to be in perfect, gem mint condition.

That means the card needs to be flawless.

Now that we got that out of the way, let's take a look at the list:

1986 Topps #50T Bo Jackson Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $500

Though the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted Bo Jackson with the number one pick of the 1986 NFL Draft, he vowed not to play for them after he felt they had deliberately sabotaged his senior baseball season at Auburn.

Tampa failed to disclose to Jackson that one of their facilities he visited was not NCAA-approved, and as a result, the SEC and NCAA forced him to miss the final days of his collegiate baseball career.

That didn't sit well with Jackson, and he made good on his promise not to play for the Bucs.

Instead, Jackson would go the baseball route, joining the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals after they drafted him the 105th pick in the 1986 MLB Amateur Draft.

And, after a brief 53-game stint with the Double-A Memphis Chicks, Jackson would suit up for the Royals on September 2, 1986, making his Major League debut at home against the Chicago White Sox.

Jackson struggled in 25 games for the Royals, but by 1987, he was laying the groundwork for a respectable MLB career that eventually saw him become an All-Star in 1989.

As for football, Jackson would join the Los Angeles Raiders in 1987, eventually earning Pro Bowl honors in 1990 to become the only person ever to be an MLB All-Star and NFL Pro Bowler.

1986 Topps Traded #50T Bo Jackson Rookie Card

1986 Topps #11T Barry Bonds Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $325

Had Barry Bonds steered clear of PEDs, this card would easily be the number one card on this list, and it's anyone's guess how much it would be worth.

There's no question he would've been a first-ballot Hall of Famer and likely the first player ever elected unanimously before Mariano Rivera.

Needless to say, prices for this card would be a lot higher if things had worked out that way.

But, they didn't.

Instead, Bonds' seven MVPs, 14 All-Star selections, 12 Silver Sluggers, 8 Gold Gloves, and 2 batting titles will forever hang under a cloud of controversy.

However, PEDs aside, you'll be hard-pressed to find anyone saying Bonds wasn't one of the greatest baseball players ever to set foot on the field.

His incredible five-tool skillset was astonishing to watch, so despite his reputation, the demand for this card remains strong.

Once a rookie card of a player like Bonds becomes a hobby icon, more than a controversial topic like a connection to PEDs is needed to knock it entirely off many collectors' want lists.

The next card on this list is another example of this phenomenon, albeit to a lesser degree than Bonds' rookie. 

1986 Topps Traded #11T Barry Bonds Rookie Card

1986 Topps #20T Jose Canseco Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $90

Following a brief and successful call-up to the Oakland Athletics in 1985, Jose Canseco carried that momentum right into the 1986 season.

In 157 games and 600 at-bats, Canseco knocked the cover off the ball, racking up 33 home runs and 117 RBIs to become the first Athletics player since Harry Byrd in 1952 to earn AL Rookie of the Year honors.

But that incredible production came with an all-or-nothing price as Canseco struck out an eye-popping 175 times.

And that lack of consistency at the plate may have been why the AL Rookie of the Year chase with California's Wally Joyner was closer than it should have been.

In many ways, Canseco's first full season with Oakland was much like that of another famous Oakland Slugger: Reggie Jackson.

Regardless, the baseball world had caught an early glimpse of the kind of production that Canseco would become known for throughout his career.

However, his reputation for power and production would eventually become shrouded by his connection to steroids.

But early on, Canseco was on top of the baseball world.

And if you collected baseball cards in the late 80s and early 90s, then you know just how hot this card was back then.

1986 Topps Traded #20T Jose Canseco Rookie Card

1986 Topps #24T Will Clark Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $70

There was a time when Will Clark looked like he was on a surefire trajectory for Cooperstown.

After a respectable rookie campaign in 1986, Clark went on a five-year tear from 1987 to 1991, during which he made four All-Star appearances and four top-five finishes in the MVP vote.

For eight seasons with the San Francisco Giants, Clark certainly lived up to his nickname of "Will the Thrill."

Yet, injuries began to nag at Clark, diminishing his overall playing time and some of his power.

After his contract with the Giants expired in 1993, Clark would spend the second half of his career playing for the Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles, and St. Louis Cardinals.

His numbers dipped, but he remained an extremely productive asset for all three teams.

And then, wanting to spend more time with his family and son, Trey, Clark decided to retire after the 2000 season.

In many ways, Clark's story was similar to another superstar of his era: Don Mattingly.

Both first basemen started hot, but nagging injuries threw them off the Hall of Fame path.

In the end, one of the coolest highlights of Clark's career had to have been that he homered off Nolan Ryan during his first career at-bat.

1986 Topps Traded #24T Will Clark Rookie Card

1986 Topps #40T Andres Galarraga Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $45

Andres Galaragga played 121 games for the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians in 1985 before the Montreal Expos called him up for his Major League debut on August 23, 1985.

In 24 games and 75 at-bats, the 24-year-old Venezuelan native would struggle, batting just .187 with two home runs, 4 RBIs and a .280 slugging percentage for Montreal.

But the early signs of a promising career were there, and the young Galarraga would bounce back during the 1986 season.

Before getting arthroscopic surgery on his knee on July 10, Galarraga had already belted eight home runs and led all NL rookies with 25 RBIs.

The Expos activated him on August 19 for a game at San Diego, but he was immediately shut down again after pulling a muscle in his ribs.

He'd return in September to finish the year with a .271/.338/.405 slash line with ten home runs and 42 RBIs in 321 at-bats.

Over his 19-year career in Major League Baseball, the Big Cat won a batting title, two Gold Gloves, two Silver Sluggers and earned five trips to the All-Star Game while falling one home run shy of joining the 400 club.

In short, the Galarragga was one of his era's most productive and popular first basemen.

1986 Topps Traded #40T Andres Galarraga Rookie Card

1986 Topps #51T Wally Joyner Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $45

After a brilliant rookie campaign that saw him earn an All-Star selection while finishing second in the AL Rookie of the Year vote and eighth in the MVP race, the expectations were sky-high for Wally Joyner.

In 154 games and 593 at-bats, Joyner slashed .290/.348/.457 with 22 home runs, 100 RBIs and 82 runs scored to help the California Angels to a 92-70 record and Al West championship.

And how did Joyner respond to those sky-high expectations?

He would exceed them the following year in 1987, setting career highs in home runs (34), RBIs (117), runs scored (100), slugging percentage (.528), and OPS (.894).

The Angels fell to a disappointing 75-87, but fans at Anaheim Stadium had plenty to be hopeful for in Joyner as any worries about a sophomore slump completely vanished.

Unfortunately, that 1987 season would turn out to be Joyner's peak.

He was a solid hitter for the rest of his sixteen-year career, finishing with a .289 career batting average with 204 home runs and 1,106 RBIs.

But that All-Star appearance during his 1986 rookie campaign would be his only trip to the Mid-Summer Classic.

Collectors of the late 1980s remember the hype around Joyner and his rookie card still gets a decent amount of hobby love.

1986 Topps Traded #51T Wally Joyner Rookie Card

1986 Topps #80T Otis Nixon Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $45

Over his seventeen years in Major League Baseball, Otis Nixon bounced around nine different ball clubs, beginning with his late-season call-up to the Yankees in 1983 and final season with the Braves in 1999.

And during that time, Nixon could be seen bouncing around between left, center and right field for those teams.

Because if there was one thing Nixon was known for, it was his extreme speed.

And not only did that allow him to cover a lot of ground in the outfield, but it made him a significant threat on the base paths.

A career .270 switch-hitter with a .343 OBP, Nixon was one of the last guys opposing teams wanted to see on base.

When he retired in 1999, Nixon ranked 15th on the all-time stolen base leaderboard with 620 before Kenny Lofton narrowly surpassed him in 2007 with 622.

Amazingly, Nixon racked up almost 1% of those 620 career steals with the Braves during a road game in Montreal on June 16, 1991, when he swiped six bags in one game.

Not since Eddie Collins, who twice stole six bases in 1912, had any MLB player been able to match that amount.

1986 Topps Traded #80T Otis Nixon Rookie Card

1986 Topps #56T John Kruk Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $40

Though he would eventually go on to have a successful career as a baseball analyst and color commentator, there was a time when John Kruk was a pretty good player, too.

Over a ten-year Major League career and 3,897 at-bats, Kruk finished as a .300 hitter and three-time All-Star with a 0.397 OBP.

Originally drafted by the San Diego Padres in 1981, Kruk spent several years working his way up through the Minors before making his MLB debut on April 7, 1986, as a pinch runner.

He was ultimately caught stealing during that debut and never did earn a reputation as a base-stealing threat, though he did rack up a career-high 18 stolen bases during his breakout campaign in 1987.

The Padres would trade Kruk to the Philadelphia Phillies during the 1989 season, where he would enjoy the most successful years of his career.

Kruk would earn NL All-Star honors from 1991 to 1993 and nearly helped lead the Phillies to a World Series title in 1993 until Toronto's Joe Carter ripped a Series-winning three-run shot over the left field wall in Game 6.

He certainly wasn't a Hall of Famer, but most players would dream of having a career like Kruk's.

1986 Topps Traded #56T John Kruk Rookie Card

1986 Topps #74T Kevin Mitchell Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $40

Whenever I think of Kevin Mitchell, I instantly think of that highlight reel catch he made on April 26, 1989, when he snagged a hooking foul ball off of Ozzie Smith with his barehand in deep left field.

Most people probably think of that play when they think of Mitchell, as it has become one of the most iconic catches in MLB history.

But Mitchell would go on to be known for much more during that 1989 campaign than just a single flashy defensive play.

Mitchell was an absolute monster at the plate that year, batting .291 with 100 runs scored while leading the Majors in home runs (47), RBI (125), slugging (.635), OPS (1.023), intentional walks (32) and total bases (345).

He also made his first trip to the All-Star Game while picking up his first and only Silver Slugger.

And to top it all off, Mitchell won NL MVP honors by beating out his San Francisco Giants teammate, Will Clark, with 314 vote points to Clark's 225.

Since finishing third in the 1986 NL Rookie of the Year race, Mitchell became known for his incredible skills on both sides of the plate.

But the 1989 season showed the world just how much he was capable of.

1986 Topps Traded #74T Kevin Mitchell Rookie Card

1986 Topps #101T Tom Seaver Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $40

Hall of Famer Tom Seaver's twentieth and final MLB campaign in 1986 started with one color of "Sox" and ended with another.

Seaver made his sixteenth career Opening Day start for the Chicago White Sox on April 7 against the Milwaukee Brewers, but it was a rough one.

In 5.1 innings, Seaver gave up seven hits, two home runs and five earned runs in a 5-3 loss to the Brew Crew in front of the Comiskey Park home crowd.

He was inconsistent for the White Sox in 12 outings before they traded him to the contending Boston Red Sox ahead of the deadline for Steve Lyons.

Seaver wasn't quite dominant in 16 starts for the Red Sox, but he held his own with a 5-7 record and a 3.80 ERA.

And as fate would have it, Boston would square off against the New York Mets in the World Series, the team for which Seaver debuted in 1967 and became synonymous for years.

A knee injury prevented Seaver from playing in the Series, but the Mets crowd quickly gave him a standing ovation before Game 1 at Shea Stadium.

The Mets even gave Seaver a look for a possible roster spot in June of 1987, but the three-time Cy Young winner finally called it quits after struggling in Triple-A ball. 

1986 Topps Traded #101T Tom Seaver Baseball Card

1986 Topps #12T Bobby Bonilla Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $35

While the Oakland Athletics duo of Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco became known as the "Bash Brothers" during the late 80s and early 90s, another famous duo took shape in Pittsburgh around the same time.

Pirates' superstars Barry Bonds and Bobby Bonilla quickly became known as "the Killer B's" as their big bats and incredible play became a force to reckon with in the National League East.

From 1986 to 1991, Bonilla rose to superstardom with the Pittsburgh Pirates and was ultimately at his best in 1990 and 1991 when he finished second and third in the NL MVP vote.

Both times, he finished behind Bonds in the race.

And then, the dynamic duo split as Bonilla signed a five-year $29 million contract with the New York Mets in 1993.

Though he was a two-time All-Star for the Mets, his time at Shea Stadium seemed like a letdown compared to his days in Pittsburgh.

And so, the Mets dealt him to the Baltimore Orioles in a multi-player trade during the 1995 season.

Interestingly, the Mets traded for him during the 1998 offseason, bringing him back to Shea for the 1999 season.

And that's where Bonilla became infamous.

After another sub-par performance, the Mets released him while still owing him $5.9 million.

So Bonilla negotiated a deal where the Mets wouldn't have to pay him until 2011, but from then on through 2035, they'd have to pay him $1.19 every July 1, a day that has since become known as "Bobby Bonilla Day."

1986 Topps Traded #12T Bobby Bonilla Rookie Card

1986 Topps #102T Ted Simmons

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $35

Since the Modern Era Baseball Committee elected Ted Simmons to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in December 2019, interest in his cards has trended sharply upwards throughout the hobby.

His 1971 Topps rookie card is understandably his most desirable, but this one offers a much cheaper way to enjoy a card of one of baseball's greatest catchers in his later years with the Atlanta Braves.

Simmons never earned a Gold Glove during his 21-year career, but he made up for it with his bat on the offensive side of the ball.

When all was said and done, Simmons finished as a career .285 hitter with 2,472 hits, 248 home runs, 1389 RBIs and is currently tied with Chili Davis for 22nd on the all-time intentional walks list with 188.

Simmons hit .300 or better seven times in his career, earning eight trips to the All-Star Game and one Silver Slugger along the way.

As great as he was, Simmons' achievements were often overshadowed by those of another Hall of Fame catcher in Cincinnati named Johnny Bench.

Perhaps that had something to do with how long it took Simmons to get his call to Cooperstown.

But, fortunately, he got it.

1986 Topps Traded #102T Ted Simmons Baseball Card

1986 Topps #108T Danny Tartabull Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $30

Drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the third round of the 1980 MLB Draft, Danny Tartabull made his official MLB debut as a pinch runner for the Seattle Mariners on September 7, 1984.

He'd spend most of the 1985 season with the Triple-A Calgary Cannons before the Mariners called him up again, this time for good, to play shortstop against the Yankees on September 2, 1985.

Tartabull was impressive in his 1986 rookie season for the Mariners, slashing .270/.347/.489 with 25 home runs, 76 runs scored and 96 RBIs.

Nobody was going to catch Jose Canseco for AL Rookie of the Year honors in 1986 but, if you look at Tartabull's numbers, it seems strange that he finished in such a distant fifth place with only four vote points.

The Mariners sent Tartabull to the Kansas City Royals in a multi-player deal ahead of the 1987 season, where he developed a reputation as one of the MLB's best.

While in Kansas City from 1987 to 1991, Tartabull was a routine threat for 25 home runs and 100 RBIs and finally picked up an All-Star selection in 1991.

From 1992 to 1997, Tartabull spent time with the New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, Toronto Blue Jays and the Philadelphia Phillies before retiring.

1986 Topps Traded #108T Danny Tartabull Rookie Card

1986 Topps #77T Phil Niekro

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $25

It's incredible to think that Hall of Famer Phil Niekro's MLB debut occurred in 1964 when he was 25 years old and he played in his final game in 1987 at nearly twice that age at 48.

But with arguably the greatest knuckleball in baseball history in his pitching arsenal, it seemed like Niekro could pitch forever.

"Knucksie" spent twenty seasons with the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves, leading the NL in wins twice while earning four All-Star nominations, five Gold Gloves and an ERA title (1967).

After an 11-10 season and earning his fifth Gold Glove for the Braves in 1983, the team decided to release him, setting up Niekro to sign a two-year deal with the Yankees in 1984.

Seeing Niekro in Yankee pinstripes seemed strange, but he shone in his first year in the Bronx, going 16-8 with a .309 ERA and earning his fifth and final All-Star appearance.

During his second season in New York in 1985, Niekro joined the 300-win club when he shut out the Blue Jays on October 6.

After stints in Cleveland and Toronto, Niekro's career came full circle when he signed with the Braves in late 1987.

Knucksie pitched three innings for them on September 27, 1987 before retiring after the season with 318 career wins, the sixteenth most all time. 

1986 Topps Traded #77T Phil Niekro Baseball Card

1986 Topps #127T Todd Worrell Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $25

Todd Worrell spent eleven seasons in the Big Leagues, six with the St. Louis Cardinals and five with the Los Angeles Dodgers, earning a reputation as one of the top closers of his era.

Worrell wasted no time putting his name on the map during his 1986 rookie season for the Cardinals.

In 74 games and 103.2 innings pitched, Worrell went 9-10 with a 2.08 ERA, 73 strikeouts and an NL-best 36 saves to pick up NL Rookie of the Year honors.

Worrell would make three All-Star appearances during his career and finished as high as fifth in the Cy Young vote when he led the Majors in saves (44) and games finished (67) for the Dodgers in 1996.

Though he picked up 35 saves during his final season with the Dodgers in 1997, he blew nine, resulting in frequent boos from Dodgers fans and a shaky grip on the closer role late in the season.

And then, after only eleven seasons in the Majors and enjoying a lot of success as one of the game's best finishers, Worrell made the noble decision to retire and spend more time with family. 

1986 Topps Traded #127T Todd Worrell Rookie Card

1986 Topps Traded Baseball Cards In Review

While it clocks in at just 132 cards overall, the 1986 Topps Traded set delivers many high-quality cards of some of the era's biggest stars.

Again, it can be disappointing to think about how some of these guys fell short of their true greatness or bad decisions left their legacies in a cloud of controversy.

However, for those collectors who grew up collecting cards during this era, many of the names in the checklist will drum up many nostalgic feelings.

Unopened Box of 1986 Topps Traded Baseball Cards

And with the resurgence in the baseball card hobby has come a renewed interest in cards of the 1980s.

The 1986 Topps base set has really taken off in recent years and this set has followed closely in its footsteps.

Overall, the nostalgic factor surrounding a lot of guys on this list will help it continue to hold up well in the hobby.

And really, that's what this hobby should be all about.

Ross Uitts

Ross is the founder of Old Sports Cards and has been collecting sports cards for over 30 years. He also loves to write about the hobby and has written for Beckett, Topps, SABR and of course, this website. Need help buying or selling cards or have a general question about the hobby? Contact him at [email protected]

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