The Houston Chronicle's Richard Justice is reporting that Bud Selig and Jim Crane have reached an agreement on compensation for a Houston Astros move to the American League. The switch would take place following the 2012 season.
The announcement of the deal comes just in the nick of time. The Astros sale is on the agenda for Thursday.
According to the report, Crane will get back $70 million for the move to the American League. Half of that sum will come in the form of a discount on the price. In effect, the sale price has been reduced to $645 million. MLB will chip in the remaining $35 million.
Since the agreement became official, it seems that approval should be a foregone conclusion. That will come sometime tomorrow.
The league switch will not be announced when the sale is announced. MLB wants the day to be about Drayton McLane and Jim Crane. All that being said, he could be running the team as soon as Monday.
What does it all mean?
The above portion can all be found in Justice's article. The next question is how this deal will affect the Astros moving forward.
A number of people were concerned about the deal because the Crane group would be financing quite a bit of debt. Removing $70 million from that total could improve things in the short term.
There has been some speculation that Crane will allow the team to sign two significant free agents to help increase fan interest.
I wouldn't buy too much into that.
The plan is still for the team to go young. It will need a shortstop (whether that be Clint Barmes or someone else), and it likely needs some pitching help.
That doesn't mean we should be expecting Jose Reyes and Heath Bell in the team's Christmas stocking. The options will likely be affordable ones. We still might be looking at the Rafael Furcals, Edgar Renterias and Yuniesky Betancourts of the world.
Will there be changes?
In the short term, I don't see how there could be any significant changes. The winter meetings are coming up in three weeks. Firing GM Ed Wade or anyone else now would put them behind the eight ball.
A lot of this rides on George Postolos (the incoming CEO). How much information has he been able to gather?
The new management team could go in a number of different directions at this point. It could use the information it currently has to make the changes it wants immediately. On the other hand, the new management could simply wait for a period of several months to evaluate the current group in the baseball operations office more closely.
Or, the team could hire an outside consultant to advise it.
The Houston Texans did the same thing when they hired Dan Reeves to evaluate the coaching staff and general manager. The idea is that this expert would give straighter answers than anyone in the organization. Good or bad, that resulted in the Texans moving to their current regime.
They likely aren't going to listen to me, but if I had their collective ear, I would suggest the Astros go with the final solution. Ideally, they would bring in someone that has no interest in doing the job him or herself. That way, he or she won't have any bias in his or her recommendations.
Give the consultant until the beginning of the year, and let him or her look at everything, top to bottom.
In terms of this offseason, I wouldn't make too many additions. The Astros needs a shortstop that can provide competence at the plate and in the field, but beyond that, they should have everything they need to put together a competitive club.
If they add a veteran reliever or two, they might put themselves in a position to win 70 games.