If there’s one thing you can say for 1986 Topps Traded baseball cards, it’s that they made up for lost time.

Because, after a 1985 set that was chock full of big-name rookies, and would-be big-name rookies courtesy of the Olympic subset, the 1986 Topps base set was disappointing by comparison.

There were 1985 Rookie of the Year winners Vince Coleman and Ozzie Guillen … and not much else.

Sure, eventually the Lenny Dykstra, Darren Daulton, and Cecil Fielder cards turned into a little something, but it was slim pickings through that first summer of the 1986s’ life.

And things only got worse when you compared the Topps checklist to those of Fleer and Donruss, who both managed to include RCs of Jose Canseco and Andres Galarraga, among other hot commodities.

But, even though collectors got plenty of hot cardboard from the other manufacturers through the summer, we were always ready for more … so the Topps Traded set couldn’t have come at a better time, for us or for Topps.

That year-end update was an immediate hit, and it’s maintained a pretty solid spot in collectors’ hearts in all the years since.

And that goes double for these ten — they’re the most valuable 1986 Topps Traded baseball cards in PSA 9 condition, based on recent auction sales prices.

(Note: The following sections contain affiliate links to eBay and Amazon links for the cards being discussed.)

1986 Topps Traded Barry Bonds (#11T)

As the son of a successful major leaguer and with a standout college career of his own, Barry Bonds came to the pros with plenty of hype.

But, while his dad, Bobby Bonds, made a name for himself as the most prolific 30-30 man in the game, young Barry was even more tools-y, more about potential.

Early on, Barry brought a lot of speed and on-base ability to the Pittsburgh Pirates, but those skills weren’t all that sexy to collectors during the boom years (or, really ever). So, while Bonds’ first Topps card was somewhat popular, it lagged behind others on this list in terms of value as he built toward his peak.

By the time he copped his second National League MVP award in 1992, though, Bonds was generally considered the best all-around player in the game. And, when he found his major power stroke in moving to the San Francisco Giants the next summer, all of his cards started to percolate.

Of course, Bonds’ game would rise to a new peak a decade later — in 2001, he left Babe Ruth, Roger Maris, Sammy Sosa, and Mark McGwire in his dust to set the single-season home run mark at 73. And then he set about turning the batter’s box into his personal arcade game by getting on base (partly thanks to gobs of intentional walks) and hitting home runs at unprecedented rates.

Those were the skills collectors love, of course, especially the homers, and Bonds’ cards rose like one of his moonshots.

Had it not been for his reputation as something of a churlish boor, Barry’s cards would have set all sorts of records, too.

But, by the time he took down Hank Aaron‘s career home run mark in August of 2007, there was plenty of talk about how he might have had some “help” in his late-career surge, and his card values stagnated to a large degree.

To this point, just after the 2021 Hall of Fame results were announced, Bonds’ presumed PED usage has kept him out of Cooperstown.

It hasn’t kept his first Topps card from climbing to the top of the 1986 Traded heap and staying there, though.

Today, this is about a $30-40 card in PSA 9 condition.

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1986 Topps Traded Bo Jackson (#50T)

1986 Topps Traded Bo  Jackson

Bo Jackson was sort of the anti-Barry — always smiling, flashy in everything he did from the get-go, and a collector favorite right out of the (Topps Traded) box.

In fact, at various points in its history, this Bo card was the most popular and valuable in the entire set.

Today, even though a devastating hip injury killed Jackson’s NFL career in 1991 and severely curtailed his big league tenure, he still remains immensely popular with collectors.

This card checks in at about $30-40 in graded MINT condition.

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1986 Topps Traded Wally Joyner (#51T)

1986 Topps Traded Wally  Joyner

This was one place where Topps didn’t fall behind their competitors in 1986, simply because nobody had Joyner pegged as a breakout star.

After three seasons in the California Angels‘ minor league system, Joyner had established himself as a guy who could hit for a pretty high average but without a lot of power. Not your typical first-base profile, but enough to get him a shot at playing in Anaheim.

And, boy, did he make the most of it!

By the end of May, Joyner was hitting .305 with 16 home runs and 41 RBI, and he was slaying the rookie field, even outpacing a certain hot shot for the Oakland A’s who came with plenty of advance publicity and hobby buzz.

Joyner cooled off from that point to finish with *just* 22 home runs and finish second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting, behind you-know-who.

But in the process of breaking out, Joyner had become Wally World, a national sensation who had collectors clamoring for his card, and it was this RC that really drove the set out of the gate, just like Joyner’s presence in Donruss’s The Rookies made that thing the hit of the late-year releases.

Joyner found another power gear in 1987 (34 dingers, 117 ribbies) before settling into a nice, long semi-star-level career.

These days, PSA 9 copies of Joyner’s first Topps card bring close to $20 most of the time.

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1986 Topps Traded Ken Griffey (#41T)

1986 Topps Traded Ken  Griffey

Ken Griffey was a key (though underrated) member of the Big Red Machine and the still-great Cincinnati Reds teams that followed in the late 1970s and very early 1980s.

And Senior put together a long and distinguished career of his own, one that featured more than 2100 hits, 152 home runs, 200 stolen bases, and a rock-solid .296 batting average.

All of that didn’t land him in this spot, though.

No, what really catapulted Ken Griffey into the hobby spotlight were the on-field exploits of his son, Ken Griffey, Jr.

Junior was one of the ten or so greatest position players of all time, and he’s hobby royalty, so it makes sense that his star-level daddy gets some collector love of his own … even when sporting an airbrushed Atlanta Braves uniform.

The 1986 Topps Traded Griffey sells for $15-20 in PSA 9 condition.

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1986 Topps Traded Jose Canseco (#20T)

1986 Topps Traded Jose  Canseco

Now, this was the dude who was supposed to light up the summer of 1986.

Just 21 years old entering the season, Canseco was coming off a 36-home run season in the upper reaches of the Oakland A’s farm system in 1985, capped off with five dingers in 29 games during a September callup.

The next spring, his 1986 Donruss Rated Rookie card jumped right out of wax packs and into dealers’ showcases, topping $3 a pop before you could say “Lamborghini.”

And that Fleer RC he shared with Eric Plunk wasn’t far behind.

Canseco’s Topps rookie card, however, was far behind … because it wouldn’t exist until November or so, when the Topps Traded set hit hobby shelves.

In between, Jose was upstaged by Joyner — for awhile — before overtaking the Angels’ upstart to finish with 33 home runs, 117 RBI, and the AL ROY award.

Canseco’s cards were hobby gold for the first five years or so of his career, even as he showed signs of the boobness that would eventually derail his march to Cooperstown.

Now, even though the full story of his career is a sort of sad one, and even though he fell short of the monster numbers we all predicted for him, Canseco’s RCs still maintain a degree of hobby swagger.

This first Topps Canseco card generally brings $15-20 in PSA 9 condition.

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1986 Topps Traded Jim Leyland Rookie Card (#66T)

1986 Topps Traded Jim Leyland (#66T)

If you’d have told collectors late in 1986 that this Jim Leyland “rookie card” would someday be rubbing elbows with the Jose Canseco RC from the same set, value-wise, we’d have told you to loosen that pillbox hat of yours a bit.

But, as things played out, Canseco developed some warts while Leyland went on to win a string of division titles with the Pirates, a World Series title with the Marlins, and a couple of pennants with the Tigers.

And, oh yeah, three Manager of the Year Awards.

So, yeah, Leyland has a better shot at Cooperstown honors than Jose does, so it’s no surprise this card has climbed in to the ranked ranks.

Value: $15-20

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1986 Topps Traded Ted Simmons (#102T)

This one gives Leyland a run for its money in the race for title of “Most Surprisingly Valuable of All 1986 Topps Traded Baseball Cards.”

Hardly any of Simmons’ cards registered much of a blip on collector radars before December of 2019. But then came the surprise announcement from the Veterans Committee — Ted Simmons was a Hall of Famer!

Suddently, his cards spiked across the board, and much of that newfound luster has remained in the years since. That’s certainly the case for this 1986 Topps Traded dealio that shows Simmons at the start of his tenure with his final team, the Atlanta Braves.

Value: $15-20

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1986 Topps Traded Will Clark (#24T)

1986 Topps Traded Will  Clark

Clark’s was more of a slow-boil greatness than the sound and fury unleashed at various times by cardboard classmates like Bonds, Jackson, and Canseco.

Nevertheless, Clark amassed 2100 hits in his 15-year career and developed a reputation as a hardnosed gamer — or a sort of cocky dude, depending on who you talk to.

But, while his power numbers were somewhat blunted by playing half his games in Candlestick Park through his 20s, Clark still found a solid hobby base, and The Thrill remains popular with collectors today.

Clark’s 1986 Topps Traded card sells for about $10-15 in graded MINT condition.

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1986 Topps Traded Andres Galarraga (#40T)

1986 Topps Traded Andres  Galarraga

Galarraga was an “old” rookie in 1986, turning 25 that June in the midst of a .271/10 HR/42 RBI season that gave the Montreal Expos a glimmer of hope for their first base position.

That was enough to warm up his Donruss and Fleer rookies a smidge, too, and enough to give his 1986 Topps Traded card some immediate footing in the hobby.

As Big Cat solidified himself as one of the best fielding first basemen in the game over the next few years, and especially when he led the majors with a .370 batting average as an inaugural member of the Colorado Rockies in 1993, that foothold became a ladder.

Galarraga may never make the Hall of Fame cut, but he ended his 19-year career with 2300+ hits, 399 home runs (just like Al Kaline!), and a .288 batting average.

It all adds up to a $10-15 price tag on PSA 9 copies of his first Topps card.

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1986 Topps Traded Bobby Bonilla (#12T)

1986 Topps Traded Bobby  Bonilla

When Bonilla became a free agent after the 1991 season, there were several in the game who considered him to be the better get between the Pirates two young superstars — Bonds, of course, being the other.

That led to some pretty decent bidding on the open market and the unconventional deal with the New York Mets that will pay Bobby-Bo annually through 2035.

History tells us, of course, that Bonds was by far the better player, but Bonilla did make plenty of noise with his bat, including a career-high 34 home runs for the Mets in 1993.

Partly because of that early firepower, and partly because of the notoriety surrounding his Mets deal after he didn’t *quite* live up to expectations in Flushing, Bonilla cards still draw some interest to this day.

This first Topps Bonilla card falls into the $5-10 range when graded out at PSA 9.

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1986 Topps Traded John Kruk (#56T)

1986 Topps Traded John Kruk

Kruk was a comic in the batter’s box who was self-aware enough to know that his body didn’t really look like it belonged to an athlete, and also that he really didn’t want to be decapitated by Randy Johnson.

Antics aside, though, Kruk was an excellent batter, who hit an even .300 over the course of his 10-year career. He’ll never make it to the Hall of Fame, but The Krukker and his cards remain plenty popular today.

Value: $5-10

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1986 Topps Traded Tom Seaver (#101T)

1986 Topps Traded Tom  Seaver

This card is painful to look at because 1) it shows Seaver in an unfamiliar uniform and 2) oh, god … the airbrush massacre!

But it’s also historic, as the first last card of Tom Seaver’s long and storied career. More precisely, it’s the first Topps card featuring Seaver with his last team, the Boston Red Sox.

And, though Seaver appeared in the base 1987 Topps set, that card didn’t have anywhere near the, um, artistic appeal of this one.

The 1986 Topps Traded Tom Seaver card sells for about $5-10 in PSA 9 condition. Quite a bargain for the air-brushiest of all 1986 Topps Traded baseball cards, don’t you think?

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1986 Topps Traded Kevin Mitchell (#74T)

1986 Topps Traded Kevin  Mitchell

By the time this card hit the hobby, Mitchell had just helped the New York Mets win a World Series title, and his .277 average with 12 homers in the regular season landed him a third-place showing in NL ROY voting.

Not surprising, then that this card became a collector favorite right away as we all envisioned big power from the man who replaced George Foster in Shea Stadium.

Three years later, when Mitchell won the National League MVP award to help the San Francisco Giants to an NL pennant, his popularity — and that of his cards — was at its peak.

Mitchell put together a few more solid seasons after that but never again scaled those heights.

Still, his first Topps card brings in around $5 in PSA 9 condition these days.

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There you have them — the 13 most valuable 1986 Topps Traded baseball cards … sort of.

While these are definitely the top of all normal ’86 Traded cards, Topps also released a super-glossy Tiffany set that fall, encompassing the same 132-card checklist. It’s estimated that Topps issued just 5000 of these hobby-only sets.

As you might imagine, that ramps up their value — expect a multiple of 2-3 for the lower-priced cards on this list, on up to a whopping 30-40X for the Tiffany versions of the Bonds and Jackson 1986 Topps Traded baseball cards.

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