Astros interested in moving affiliate to Fayetteville

Astros interested in moving affiliate to Fayetteville

ANAHEIM -- The Astros' ongoing efforts to streamline their Minor League operations could see them put a Minor League team in Fayetteville, N.C., by the end of the decade.

The Astros have sent a letter of interest to the city of Fayetteville that outlines to move to a nonbinding memorandum of understanding to move a Minor League affiliate to the city if it can get a ballpark built. The Astros would have to purchase a franchise and relocate it.

Astros' Minor League affiliates

"We're trying to get something done on the Minor League side in Fayetteville," Astros owner Crane told MLB.com on Wednesday. "If they get a stadium built and the economics are current, we are committed to try and buy and move a team there."

Baseball America reported last month that the Astros and Rangers have been in talks to relocate their Class A Advanced affiliates in the California League to the Carolina League, which would make it a 12-team league. The magazine reported the Rangers had signed a lease with Kinston, N.C., to move their Class A Advanced operation from High Desert, Calif.

The Fayetteville Observer reported Tuesday it would cost $46.9 million to build a 5,000-seat stadium near downtown, which is the preferred site. The Astros' player development contract with Class A Lancaster of the California League expires after this year, and moving their affiliate to the Carolina League would be more desirable for operational and travel purposes.

"We want to control the movement of our players for efficiency reasons and developmental reasons in these situations," Crane said. "It's not complicated."

The Astros currently own Double-A Corpus Christi and Rookie-level Greeneville.

A new 12,500-capacity ballpark constructed by MLB and the MLB Players Association at nearby Fort Bragg will host a game Sunday between the Braves and Marlins on a night celebrating the nation's servicemen and servicewomen. Crane was in Fayetteville in April to scout the area.

"It's a nice little spot," he said. "It would be a good little baseball town."

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.