A’s will welcome Astros to AL West in 2013

The Oakland A’s can’t get a new ballpark, but they will have a new division foe.

The Houston Astros were sold to Texas businessman Jim Crane, a move that was unanimously approved by Major League Baseball’s owners Thursday morning.

As part of the transaction, Crane will receive a $70 million discount for agreeing to move the Astros from the National League Central to the American League West. The move by the Astros is one piece of the puzzle in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement that MLB and the Players’ Association are getting ready to announce.

The A’s will start making trips to Houston in 2013, when the move takes effect. By moving the Astros to the AL, it gives Major League Baseball two 15-team leagues and allows Commissioner Bud Selig to add one playoff team per league, something he’s been pushing for in the last few years.

Most likely starting in with the upcoming 2012 season, there will be a one-game “play-in” round between the two wild-card teams. The winner of that game will move on to play in the Divisional round.

Additionally, two 15-team leagues create a scenario where Interleague play will take place throughout the entire season.