It's a done deal, or it will be Thursday when the Major League Baseball owners approve Drayton Mclane's sale of the Astros to a group of investors led by Houston businessman Jim Crane.

Crane will also get a $70 million discount off his $680 million purchase price in exchange for moving the Astros to the American League in 2013, according to a Major League Baseball official with direct knowledge of the negotiations.

Astros owner Drayton McLane will contribute $35 million of the $70 million, the official said, with the remaining $35 million coming from Major League Baseball.

Barring a last-minute snag, Crane’s purchase of the Astros will be approved by MLB owners during a meeting here Thursday morning, and he could assume control of the club as early as Monday.

Moving to the American League will remove the Astros from a division — and a league — where they’ve had heated rivalries with the Cardinals, Cubs and Dodgers, among others, through the years.

However, baseball hopes to start an entirely new geographical rivalry with the Texas Rangers. They envision a time when the two teams will be playing with a playoff berth on the line in September and hope such a rivalry could ignite baseball interest throughout Texas.

via Ultimate Astros » Crane to receive $70-million discount for Astros’ switch to American League.

Moving Houston to the AL is part of a total realignment of major league baseball. The goal is for both leagues to have 15 teams.

This move is not universally popular in Houston. An informal online poll by the Houston Chronicle last month showed 76 percent of the respondents against it, with 35 percent vowing to sever their allegiance if the Astros were to join the AL.

Even former players like pitcher/manager Larry Dierker, All Star outfielder Jimmy Wynn, and player/General Manager Bob Watson don't like it, but they admit that's the way things are in today's baseball world.