Astros may be on the move

IMILWAUKEE (AP) — A team, not a free-agent player, was the story of the day Wednesday at Major League Baseball’s general managers meeting.

Owners, who arrived Wednesday, and general managers were to finish their meetings Thursday. And owners were expected to approve the sale of the Houston Astros from Drayton McLane to Jim Crane.

McLane bought the team in November 1992 for about $117 million and put the franchise up for sale in November.

Major League Baseball told Crane it wouldn’t approve his purchase of the Astros unless he agreed to move the team to the American League, a person familiar with the negotiations told the the Associated Press.

Crane reportedly agreed to the move in exchange for a drop in the sales price valued earlier this year at $680 million. The person who spoke to the AP couldn’t confirm the sales price.

“We’ll let baseball talk about that. There were a lot of adjustments, so we’ll just wait and see what they have to say (today),” McLane said Wednesday night.

McLane said he’s leaving with mixed emotions, something that hit him as he sat in a meeting with other owners Wednesday.

“Last night when I went to bed, I thought about it. I can remember 19 years ago how elated I was. It’s been a wonderful, wonderful ride,” he said.

“Each of these owners have been my friends for 19 years. One of the strange things is, I’m one of the older owners right now. There’s only seven or eight that have been here longer than I have. Been a world of turnover.”

If the Astros switch to the AL West, it would create two 15-team leagues of three five-team divisions each.

It’ll just be difficult for McLane — at least at first — to see his team in the other league.

“I’ve always been a National League fan,” he said. “Change is a big part of my life and what I’ve tried to do in business. I think it’s going to be interesting to see the American League teams come in and getting a rivalry with the Rangers. That won’t be too bad. It’s going to be good.”

Rangers president Nolan Ryan, who pitched for the Astros during his Hall of Fame career, said he has some of the same feelings.

“I grew up an Astros fan and I look at the Astros as a National League team but I understand the desire to balance out the two leagues,” Ryan said Wednesday.

“From our perspective, I like having them in the same division because it gives us a team in our time zone. ...

“We’ve talked about the fact that there will be more interleague play and how does the schedule actually work. ... It’s going to bring some dynamics. We’re not sure how they’ll work. Obviously, it’s going to change some things.”

Ryan also complimented McLane for his long run.

“He had a real passion for baseball and the Houston Astros. I would expect there to be an adjustment period for him, not being in that role,” Ryan said.

“He promoted the Houston Astros extremely well. I’m sure that Jim Crane and his group will do the same.”

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