The Houston Chronicle is reporting that Major League Baseball is so adamant that the Houston Astros leave the six team National League Central and balance both leagues by joining the four team American League West that it gave prospective new Astros owner Jim Crane a $70 million discount on the purchase of the franchise.
The Chronicle report details that half of the $70 million would come from current owner Drayton McClane, and half from MLB itself. Why the aggressive cost-cutting? Because with a balanced alignment of six, five-team divisions and two leagues, MLB can pursue expanding the amount of wildcards in future playoffs.
All parties involved are hoping that fans will latch onto a potential in-state rivalry between the Astros and Texas Rangers. Rangers owner Nolan Ryan has repeatedly expressed his support of the move. Still, the Astros have been a NL ball club their entire existence, and will mortgage several long rivalries (namely with division opponents like the Cubs and Cardinals) in addition to playing more games on the west coast. The Chronicle quoted an anonymous source involved in the purchase regarding the move:
"Listen," the official said on Tuesday, "we understand that Houston has been a National League city for (50) seasons, and there’s some resistance about moving. We also understand there could be some damage (to the franchise), and that’s what these negotiations were about. We wanted to be fair."