HOUSTON - APRIL 12: Fans wave an Astros flag in center field at Minute Maid Park on April 12, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Jim Crane is expected to be approved as the new owner of the franchise, contingent on the Astros moving to the American League West in 2013.
The Houston Astros' move out of the National League Central is now considered a likelihood, the Houston Chronicle reports. Sources told the Chronicle's Steve Campbell on Friday that prospective owner Jim Crane has reached an agreement with Major League Baseball that would move the Astros to the American League's Western Division.
"If it’s on the agenda, then the deal is done," one person with knowledge of the situation said.
"They usually don’t get this far unless it’s something that’s going to be acted on," another person with knowledge of the situation said.
Then again, Crane appeared on the verge of taking over control of the team in August when the sale was on the agenda of the owners meetings. MLB subsequently pulled the vote from the agenda five days before a scheduled owners’ vote, citing the need to further vet Crane and his investors.
If the deal is approved by MLB, not only would it balance the two leagues, but likely begin the process of adding two more wildcard slots to the playoff race. The proposed move would take place beginning with the 2013 season. Texas Rangers' owner Nolan Ryan has supported the move, assumedly to give the Rangers a logical in state rival in the current four-team division of Texas, Oakland, Los Angeles of Anaheim and Seattle.