KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Astros owner Jim Crane said Tuesday that while he would have preferred to have kept the team he purchased in November in the National League, he understood baseball's decision to move the club to the American League next year as a contingency of the purchase.
Crane's comments to ESPN.com came in response to remarks made Tuesday by former Astros outfielder Lance Berkman, who played his former team as a member of the Cardinals. Berkman said Commissioner Bud Selig extorted Crane into moving the team to the AL.
Drayton McLane sold the Astros for $610 million after agreeing to a $70 million price reduction because Crane was required to switch leagues to balance out the leagues at 15 teams each. Major League Baseball paid McLane $35 million to agree to the league switch.
"I think it was a good deal for baseball," Crane told ESPN.com. "I think it was a good deal for our owners. Would we have preferred to stay in the National League? Probably, yeah. But that wasn't the deal that was presented to us."
Rob Manfred, MLB's executive vice president of labor relations and human resources, responded to Berkman's comments for the Commissioner's Office.
"The 15-15 allowed us to make a number of changes in the Basic Agreement, and the Basic Agreement was ratified 30-0," Manfred told ESPN.com. "It got ratified 30-0 due to the efforts of Commissioner Selig, and it got ratified 30-0 even though there were individual issues that the owners may not have agreed on. In the end, they fully supported the deal."