Sports News

Astros sale approved, move to American League: official

Houston Astros Wandy Rodriguez pitches to the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning of their Inter-League MLB baseball game in Toronto, May 22, 2011. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

(Reuters) - Major League Baseball (MLB) owners have approved the sale of the Houston Astros as part of a deal that will see the National League Central Division club move to the American League West for the 2013 season.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed but a report on the Astros website on Thursday said Drayton McLane, who has owned the club since 1992, sold the team to a group headed by Houston businessman Jim Crane for $610 million.

“I welcome Jim Crane and his group as they prepare to become the new stewards of the Astros,” MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement.

“I thank them for their patience and determination throughout a long but necessary process, which allowed us to accomplish our due diligence.”

Under McLane, who put the team up for sale last November, the Astros have experienced some of the greatest moments in the franchise’s history, including winning the NL pennant in 2005 and the opening of Minute Maid Park in 2000.

Houston’s eventual move to the AL West will put them in a division with cross-state rival Texas Rangers, the Oakland Athletics, Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners.

It will also mark MLB’s first realignment since the Milwaukee Brewers moved from the AL Central to the NL Central before the 1998 season.

When the Astros switch divisions, MLB will have 15 clubs in each league and five clubs in each of its six divisions for the first time.

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Steve Ginsburg