We’ve heard multiple theories as to why exactly Houston businessman Jim Crane has not been approved as the new owner of the Astros.
Forbes magazine called him “controversial,” he had an ugly divorce back in 2000, his businesses have been taken to court 130 times over the past 15 years. Maury Brown of The Biz of Baseball has more.
But what’s the real issue? Why hasn’t the sale gone through? And will it ever go through?
According to Mark Berman, sports director for FOX 26 in Houston, baseball commissioner Bud Selig has asked Crane to move the Astros to the American League when (or if) he is named the owner of the team. Crane has not yet committed to doing that, and his hesitance may be holding up MLB’s approval of the $680 million sale agreement that was worked out nearly four months ago with former owner Drayton McLane.
Selig is hoping to even up baseball’s leagues at 15 teams apiece so that a system that allows four Wild Card spots can be put in place. The Astros would be sent to the American League West to create a “Texas rivalry” with the Rangers, and to shake up baseball’s two uneven divisions (the NL Central currently has six teams and the AL West has four). It’s a serious money-generating move, and it could be put into place this offseason.
If Crane doesn’t get on board, Selig and baseball’s 29 current owners might continue to make things difficult.
Update (8:51 PM EST): The deal is in place, according to Heyman.
Update (8:27 PM EST): Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals made an “over-the-top offer” to Fowler to ensure he’d sign.
Frank Cusumano of KSDK Sports reports that free agent outfielder will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday. Presumably, that means that Fowler and the Cardinals have gotten pretty far along in negotiations.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports recently reported that Fowler was looking for $18 million per year. The Blue Jays reportedly made an offer to Fowler in the four-year, $16 million range several days ago. The Cardinals’ offer to Fowler, if there is indeed one, is likely somewhere between the two figures.
Fowler, 30, is coming off of a fantastic year in which he helped the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908. During the regular season, he hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI, 84 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 551 plate appearances.
Fowler rejected the Cubs’ $17.2 million qualifying offer last month. While the QO compensation negatively affected Fowler’s experience in free agency last offseason — he didn’t sign until late February with the Cubs — his strong season is expected to make QO compensation much less of an issue.
Tommy Stokke of RanRag Sports reports that the Braves and Rangers agreed to a trade. According to ESPN’s Keith Law, the Braves will receive pitcher Luke Jackson from the Rangers in exchange for pitchers Tyrell Jenkins and Brady Feigl.
Jackson, 25, is under team control through 2022. He has logged only 18 innings in the majors, yielding 14 runs on 22 hits and eight walks with three strikeouts. While Jackson has struggled with control, the Braves likely see upside because his fastball sits in the mid- to high-90’s.
Jenkins, 24, is also under team control through 2022. The right-hander made eight starts and six relief appearances in his first major league season in 2016, putting up a 5.88 ERA with a 26/33 K/BB ratio over 52 innings.
Feigl, 25, was an undrafted free agent and was signed by the Braves in 2013. The lefty underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015 and briefly rehabbed in rookie ball this past season.