MLB NFTs are coming. But when?

You’ve probably seen all the hype around NBA “Top Shot” NFTs — non-fungible tokens — selling for big dollar figures and wondered if MLB NFTs are even a thing that exists.

They are. Sort of. But they might be about to get a little bit bigger.

While the NFT craze seems to be mostly limited to NBA “moments,” MLB is actually keeping a close eye on the idea and may move faster than the glacial pace the league often does when it pertains to technology.

Official MLB NFTs are coming … at some point

MLB chief operations and strategy officer Chris Marinak mentioned MLB NFTs while outlining some of the league’s new and upcoming initiatives on Wednesday, as chronicled by Joe Lemire of SportsTechie.

Marinak:

“We are working on something in that space. We just aren’t at a point yet where we have it firmed up enough to communicate something specific.”

There hasn’t been a lot of talk about MLB NFTs — though a blockchain-based MLB-licensed game called MLB Champions that uses real statistics does exist and features “figures” that you can buy and sell in an attempt to win games.

However, the NFT concept would seem to lend itself well to baseball, the sport that made collecting cards cool for generations and a sport that lends itself well to iconic moments that sports fans might want to own.

What are NFTs and why would they be perfect for MLB?

If you’re new to what this whole NFT thing is and feeling a bit lost — don’t worry, you’re not alone. And although NFTs are not limited to sports moments (artwork, for example, is another key area), sports are what we’ll concentrate on here.

The reason we’re talking about it now? In February Dapper Labs’ “Top Shot” moments were suddenly selling for as high as several hundred thousand dollars only months after launching.

Dapper Labs can’t even begin to keep up with the demand.

What drives it is kind of complicated, but it simplifies down to the fact these NFT moments are unique, non-fungible assets based on the same concept that makes cryptocurrency like bitcoin work, Mitchell Clark of Vox wrote.

While you don’t actually own the rights to the highlight, and you can probably just watch it for free on YouTube or wherever else you prefer, you do get to claim ownership of a limited asset tied to that highlight. Basically you can think of it like a digital baseball card to be bought, sold, or traded.

The unique, limited aspect of them creates scarcity. Now, what about demand?

Think about it: How much would you pay to be the owner of Derek Jeter’s walk-off single in the final at-bat of his career?

Or if you’re not a Yankees fan, you can undoubtedly think of some recent iconic moment for your franchise that would be fun to call your own.

Put scarcity and demand together and you’ve got a market and an asset that can go up and down in value.

Just like baseball cards did.

In fact, a Mickle Mantle card recently sold for $5.2 million.

It might not be something you personally would want to do, but all that matters is that the people who buy and sell these things believe it makes sense for them.

And as we’ve seen, a lot of money is involved. We know how MLB likes making money.

So while we might not know when NFTs will arrive, it’s a pretty good bet that they’re going to.  Whether they’ll be as popular as NBA Top Shot, however, is a question for another time.