One of the most highly coveted free agents in the sports memorabilia market has been signed. Chicago Cubs phenom Kris Bryant agreed to a multiyear autograph and memorabilia exclusive with Fanatics. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"The demand for Kris' autograph is super high right now because he signed so few autographs and plays in city starved for success," said Victor Shaffer, executive vice president of Fanatics Authentic. "Being a great teammate and having good looks doesn't hurt either."
The third baseman Bryant signed hundreds of autographs for the company on Saturday in Atlanta, where the Cubs are playing the Braves.
Bryant told ESPN.com he noticed the frenzy for his autographs at games and on the road.
"There are always a ton of fans waiting during batting practice and outside the hotels, and the way I look at it, it means it's a byproduct of me doing something right," Bryant said.
Despite now being paid big bucks for his autograph, Bryant said he will continue to sign at games for free. He also said he'll keep looking for the autographs of his opponents.
Bryant said he didn't collect as a kid, but now that he has access, he is rounding up quite the stash of autographs.
Bryant's newly signed merchandise isn't cheap. A signed authentic Cubs jersey is $600; a signed bat is $300; a signed cap is $250; and a signed ball is $200. But the fact that more Bryant signatures are entering the market should lower prices.
Earlier this month, an eBay bidder paid $15,100 for a signed 2013 Bowman card of Bryant. Since mid-April, 14 other signed cards have gone for more than $5,000 each.
"It blows my mind that people pay those types of prices," Bryant said. "I didn't even know this kind of market existed. But I'm happy people who paid those prices believe in me."
For those who want to truly invest in Bryant, Shaffer said the company will offer some limited edition items of which he will sign only 17 apiece. There will also be one-of-a-kind items, including his game-used No. 17 jersey that he wore during his first home run at Wrigley Field, which he signed Saturday.
Shaffer said Bryant's signed merchandise will be available online immediately, and the company is having a Bryant-only booth at the annual National Sports Collectors Convention, which is in Chicago from July 29 to Aug. 2.