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What Do Major Scandals Tell Us About The Wander Franco Allegations?

The details are not entirely in yet, but it is safe to say that Wander Franco is mired in scandal. Before Julio Rodriguez took over, Wander was the market’s most famous baseball card investment. Therefore, many people are holding onto his cards.

Some are sitting on multiple thousand worth of his rookies and Bowman 1sts. They will all ask themselves the same question: should you hold on to Wander Franco cards?

That is a difficult question, but we will do our best by looking at previous cases of players involved in scandals.

What happened to Wander Franco?

On social media, Wander Franco has been accused of having an intimate relationship with a 14-year-old girl. If the allegations are true, that would amount to statutory rape. The allegations were made in online posts featuring Franco kissing a young girl on her cheek.

We don’t yet know how serious the allegations are. But Franco has so far been unable to brush them off. Wander was not in the lineup for the game against the Guardians on August 13.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays manager Kevin Cash said it was just a scheduled day off, but few believed him. And indeed, when Tampa flew to play a series against the San Francisco Giants, Franco was not with the team.

Later the Rays released a statement: “During today’s game, we were made aware of the social media posts circulating regarding Wander Franco,” the Rays said. “We take the situation seriously and are in close contact with Major League Baseball as it conducts its due diligence.”

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What will happen now?

This scandal could go several ways. It could lead to severe charges and end his career. It could be wholly baseless or tar Wander Franco’s reputation heavily while allowing him to continue to play and excel.

We will update this article as more information comes out. But you can’t wait until then. You need to know right now what to do about your investment in Wander Franco cards.

Therefore, we will do the following. First, look at other incidents of allegations towards players with a high profile in the hobby and how they played out. Then, we will analyze the outlook for each of the three scenarios we analyzed. This is all speculation, but we have much time and money invested in Wander Franco cards.

But first, a crucial disclaimer. We all love baseball cards, and none wants to lose money on an investment. But we can all agree that concern for the girl involved and her loved ones is our primary concern.

It is equally essential that justice be served strictly following the evidence and due process. Having said all that, this is a sports card website, not the New York Times. So, let’s analyze what will likely happen to Wander Franco’s cards.

Why Is Wander Franco important to the hobby?

Wander was considered the best prospect in years when he came through the Tampa Bay Devil Rays system. Here is an enthusiastic but representative assessment from FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen, who called Franco “the first 80 FV prospect of the Future Value era at FanGraphs, the best prospect on the planet, and the best I’ve evaluated during my tenure here at the site.”

Why? He is a well-above-average shortstop with speed and the potential to be the best baseball hitter. In other words, Franco has multiple MVP (and, therefore, Hall of Fame) level tools.

His base rookie card has been graded 8,532 times and is only a year old. But it’s his Bowman Chrome 1st that has gone crazy. The base card version of the 2019 Bowman Prospects Chrome Wander Franco #100 card has been graded 18,204 times.

An incredible amount for a recent prospect card. That is just for the base card, though; there are hundreds of more valuable graded cards from that set and others.

And the value of some of these cards has been significant. For example, a 2019 Bowman Prospects Chrome Wander Franco Orange Refractor Auto #100 sold for $13,823.99 in May. That is the kind of price that is usually reserved for star quarterbacks and top NBA RPAs.

These allegations against Wander Franco have caused shock waves in the hobby. Many people have money invested. In addition, and this is more important, many fans and collectors are emotionally invested in the player.

What people are saying on whether you should hold on to Wander Franco cards

If there is one rule in investing, it’s this. When there is a clear danger to value, many people will panic. We saw some of that in the inevitable thread on Blowout Forums. Collectors speculated about how serious these charges are. One user said what many were thinking “Even If false accusations, these things will follow him. Therefore, his card prices may not bounce back.”

But as we will see, things don’t always work that way. There are different ways this could unfold. And as we all know, those who think things through end up making a profit. Emotional decisions are not usually rewarded.

How is the market responding so far?

The news about Wander Franco’s alleged scandal came out on August 13. I am writing the following day. So, it’s a bit early to draw any conclusions. But there was a surprising amount of Wander Franco card sales over the 24 hours following the breaking of the news.

However, the prices have already tumbled. For example, a 2022 Topps Silver Pack Refractor Wander Franco RC Rookie (PSA 10) card sold for $35. That should be a $100 card.

Meanwhile, a Wander Franco 2022 Topps Stadium Club Chrome X-Fractor (PSA 10) sold for $61 when it was going for $94 in July. Meanwhile, the 2022 Topps Chrome Wander Franco Refractor #35 (PSA 10) has held its price at around $70.

We can see that the prices are all over the place. You can expect that when there is so much uncertainty. But one thing is clear; your Wander Franco card will likely sell for less than it was just a week ago. So, keep that in mind when making investment decisions.

What if Wander Franco’s reputation is tarnished if he keeps playing?

There is a big difference between making allegations and proving them in court. But if the allegations are borne out in the court of public opinion (as in, most fans believe he did something unforgivable), it could still have severe consequences for his career. And that is doubly true for the current post #metoo era.

The Trevor Bauer case

A good example is what happened to Trevor Bauer. He was accused of assault and other charges by a young woman.

The prosecutor decided not to charge him for lack of evidence. However, disturbing pictures of injuries to her face swayed public opinion against him. Heavily. Despite being cleared to play in the MLB, teams are not enthusiastic about signing him. So, the pitcher is currently playing for the Yokohama Bay Stars.

Having to go overseas for a prime season of his career (and perhaps remain there long term) has lowered the value of Bauer’s cards. And we are talking about a pitcher who was one of the finest in the game in 2020.

It seems strange to remember that he was the 2020 Cy Young winner. So, if Wander ends up having to play abroad for a while, we might see his cards crash in value.

But here is the thing, Wander Franco is not Trevor Bauer. Yes, Bauer was a good pitcher. Even an excellent one in his prime. But Franco is a generational talent. If he is available, someone will sign him. He was also almost universally hated by his teammates.

The Marcell Ozuna case

Meanwhile, someone like Marcell Ozuna has somehow managed to revive his career after some serious charges. Ozuna was arrested in May 2021 and held on charges of aggravated assault, strangulation, and misdemeanor battery-family violence. 

Yet, he has come back and been a crucial part of the Atlanta Braves in their highly successful seasons since, including winning a World Series ring. The Braves even sent him as their representative to the home run derby, where thousands cheered for him.

Franco is more like Ozuna than Bauer. He has more fans and better stature in the clubhouse. People genuinely like him. They are likely to be more forgiving as a result. And while Ozuna can hit, there is no comparison.

Wander Franco has elite skills, and teams will be tempted to take him on if he is not suspended. Or in prison. Therefore, his cards could rebound spectacularly. But it could take a few years. We will explain why in a bit.

What if Wander Franco comes off relatively clean?

We analyzed what would happen if Franco lost in the court of public opinion but did not end up in prison. What if the charges are insufficient for a conviction but don’t convince most fans? Franco’s card value will only take a temporary hit in that case. The impact might be severe, but it will only be short-term.

There are two good examples of that. Kobe Bryant was accused of committing rape in Colorado in 2003. Because Bryant was one of the biggest stars on Earth, the story was massive and led to news broadcasts worldwide. I kid you not. I lived in Israel then, and it was the top headline. Franco will never be a bigger story.

But the case collapsed. Bryant’s wife forgave him, and fans returned to his side. Today, Kobe murals all over LA treat him as a saint after his death.

His cards are still commonly among the most graded, years after he played his last game. It’s fair to say Kobe’s reputation rebounded. But he was booed and hounded wherever he went for a year or two. Still, people generally believed him, and he was forgiven.

The Outlaw Superstar effect

With his talents in mind, Franco will be allowed to play if possible, and teams will take him on. Again, assuming he is acquitted of a felony. Various charges have tarred many stars, and their cards and memorabilia remain valuable.

The obvious cases are the big scandal-laden Hall of Fame-level players like Shoeless Joe Jackson, Pete Rose, Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens. Even a cursory glance at the prices of their rookie cards makes clear that they are selling for a high price.

Possibly even higher than it would be going for without the scandal. Think particularly of “Shoeless” Joe, who would perhaps have been forgotten without the “Black Sox Scandal.”

Therefore, what will matter isn’t what happens officially, like in institutions such as the Hall of Fame. It is how the court of public opinion judges them. And there is much goodwill towards beloved players. That is why Bonds and Rose have substantial card value.

What If Wander Franco is permanently tarnished?

As we have shown, what matters more than anything is the court of public opinion. If Franco is seen as a universally lousy guy, he may have trouble getting back onto the field, at least in America.

And, of course, if he serves a lengthy prison stretch, he may never play again. This is the worst-case scenario, and it is possible.

The final word on whether you should hold on to Wander Franco cards

There will likely be a sharp decline in the value of Wander’s cards over the next few days. I even got a text from a friend saying, “Sell all your Wanders!” So should you hold on To Wander Franco cards? Well, I do not have a crystal ball. And legal matters are beyond my purview.

Massive talents like Franco usually find their way back onto the field. And though the Trevor Bauer case shows how thoroughly a career can be destroyed by scandal, Marcel Ozuna indicates that talented and famous hitters can bounce back.

And it’s good to remember that there is a path for the outlaw superstar. Therefore, chances are that holding on to Franco’s cards is the play. But the final call, as always, is yours.

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim is the emeritus editor of Cardlines. He continues to write for several hobby outlets, including this one and Cardbase. He collects primarily vintage baseball and soccer and has a weird obsession with 1971 Topps.

In his spare time, Shaiel is sobbing into his bourbon when the Mets lose and playing Dungeons and Dragons. In a past life, Dr. Ben-Ephraim was a political science professor, journalist, and diplomat. But cards are more fun.
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