Prospective Astros owner Jim Crane has agreed to move the team to the American League in 2013, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). Crane still needs the approval of baseball's other owners. He would get a discount of approximately $50MM to switch leagues, according to Heyman. Bob Nightengale of USA Today says compensation will be in the $80MM range (Twitter link).
The move would even out the two leagues at 15 teams each and create six divisions of five teams, assuming Houston joins the four-team American League West. The shift is tied to the upcoming collective bargaining agreement, which may include identical schedules for teams within the same division and boost inter-league play considerably. As MLBTR's Tim Dierkes explained in his GM Meetings preview, owners are expected to approve the sale of the Astros from Drayton McLane to Crane this week.