Crane seeks compensation for move to AL
Prospective owner reportedly trying to cut $50 million from price
HOUSTON -- Prospective Astros owner Jim Crane has been in conversations with Major League Baseball about receiving financial compensation for agreeing to move the team to the American League if his ownership group is approved, a source confirmed for MLB.com on Thursday.
Crane's group signed a sales purchase agreement in May to buy the team from Drayton McLane for $680 million, an agreement that comes with a Nov. 30 deadline. Crane has acknowledged moving the 50-year-old franchise to the AL has been a sticking point in getting his ownership group approved.
The New York Post reported Thursday that Crane was looking to cut $50 million from the purchase price of the team in exchange for the Astros switching leagues, but no firm number has been reached, the source said.
Crane, who met earlier this month with Commissioner Bud Selig in Milwaukee, is seeking compensation to make up for the increased financial obligations of moving the team to the AL, such as increased travel costs and adding a designated hitter.
The Office of the Commissioner declined comment on the matter, keeping its focus on the World Series between the Cardinals and Rangers. A Crane spokesperson also declined comment.
In August, Major League Baseball postponed a planned vote on the transaction during the owners' meetings, saying it needed more time to examine the deal. Baseball's owners are scheduled to meet again Nov. 15-16 in Milwaukee, at which time they could be asked to vote on the deal. Seventy-five percent of owners need to approve the deal.
The Astros, who have been in the National League since the franchise began play in 1962, could be moved to the AL to give each league 15 teams and pave the way for a second Wild Card playoff team from each league.
McLane previously had said he was against a move to the AL West because it would result in an increase in the number of late West Coast start times. The Astros played in the NL West from 1969-1993, a division that included the Cincinnati Reds and Atlanta Braves.
While he awaits approval, Crane has been kept in the loop about the Astros' moves, including the July trades of outfielders Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn, and the First-Year Player Draft.
Crane's group also will take ownership of the Astros' stake in a regional sports network, in which the team has partnered with the NBA's Houston Rockets and Comcast. It will begin airing Astros games in 2013 and Rockets games beginning with the 2012 preseason.