The Astros are for sale

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Mark Cuban and Jim Crane, please call your office . . .

Astros owner Drayton McLane has retained the services of the investment bank Allen & Company to assist in the sale of the team, according to two people with knowledge of the arrangement.

McLane, who could not be reached for comment Thursday night, has owned the Astros since 1992. Having entertained on and off for at least a couple of years the idea of selling, he has ramped up efforts recently.

McLane has toyed with selling the Astros in the past, but you don’t hire an investment bank if you’re toying.  He really wants to sell this time.  Maury has more details over at the Biz of Baseball. The upshot, though: McLane wants around $800 million. Any purchase of the team would include a stake in the newly created regional sports network CSN Houston.  Bonus: no one is bankrupt this time, so any sale would likely take less than nine months and multiple rounds of litigation.

Which means this won’t be much fun at all, sadly.

Report: Red Sox sign J.D. Martinez

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Update (5:16 PM ET): ESPN’s Pedro Gomez is reporting that the deal is final.

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Red Sox and outfielder J.D. Martinez are close to a deal. He takes care to note that the deal is not done yet and the details are not known yet.

Martinez, 30, entered the offseason as the top free agent hitter. Last season, between the Tigers and Diamondbacks, he hit a lusty .303/.376/.690 with 45 home runs and 104 RBI in 489 plate appearances. He missed the first 33 games of the season with a sprained right foot; one wonders what his numbers might’ve been like if he hadn’t been injured.

The Red Sox were the team most strongly linked to Martinez throughout the offseason, despite the relatively slow-moving market. Martinez said he wants to play in the outfield and the Red Sox are currently spoken for at all three positions with Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley, and Mookie Betts. Hanley Ramirez is also penciled in at DH. Should the Martinez deal become official, the Red Sox may try to trade Bradley and move Benintendi to center field. If Martinez is willing to concede his outfield wishes, the Red Sox could slot him in at DH and move Ramirez to first base.

The AL East is shaping up to be a familiar two-horse race between the Red Sox and Yankees. The addition of Martinez, in a way, answers the Yankees’ addition of Giancarlo Stanton.