Houston Astros are interested in purchasing Marlins Triple-A affiliate

Astros owner Jim Crane is determined to bring Triple-A baseball to the suburbs of Houston. - Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE

Houston Astros owner Jim Crane has expressed interest in purchasing Triple-A New Orleans, the Marlins PCL affiliate currently under contract through 2014.

The Marlins have had a pretty successful last four years sending their Triple-A players to New Orleans. Zephyr Field is consistently in the middle of the pack in PCL attendance and Zephyr Field is one of the finer Triple-A stadiums. With this considered, the Marlins seemingly would want to stay in New Orleans. However, Jim Crane and the Astros have expressed interest in acquiring the New Orleans franchise and moving it to Houston. The Astros have already met with Zephyrs personnel, but they won't purchase the franchise until there is a stadium near Houston they can use. For the Marlins, this likely means they will be playing Triple-A baseball in a different city in the next three years.

Jim Crane has already made some bold moves since taking over as the Astros owner. Aside from his Triple-A aspirations, Crane wants to move the Astros' spring training facility to a brand-new stadium on the east coast of Florida. Crane seems determined to have a Triple-A team move to Houston, and New Orleans is the only team he's rumored to have interest in. If Crane continues to be focused on moving this team, the chances are that this billionaire will get what he wants.

When Crane talked to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com on Monday, he acknowledged that this move would likely take around two to three years. This isn't a move that is going to happen overnight. However, Houston could try to barter with the Marlins and New Orleans to acquire the New Orleans franchise sooner rather than later. The Astros' current Triple-A franchise, the Oklahoma City Redhawks, would be the obvious landing spot for any Marlins team. The Redhawks contract with Houston expires after the 2014 season, just as the Marlins contract with New Orleans does. Oklahoma City had better attendance numbers than New Orleans in 2012 and Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark is a decent park with great High-Definition MiLB.TV coverage. Still, the Marlins could be bummed that they would be moving their Triple-A club even farther away.

Overall, this deal means very little for the Marlins. Unless Jeffrey Loria decides he wants a Triple-A ballpark in Florida, the Marlins will likely be driven out of New Orleans in the coming years. Jim Crane seems poised to move the Zephyrs franchise and there doesn't seem to be much the Marlins can do about it. Sooner than later, the Marlins and Zephyr Field will be forced to part ways.

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