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Report: Father of Tampa Bay Rays' Andrew Friedman looking to buy Houston Astros

The father of Tampa Bay Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman is heading a second group seeking to buy the Astros, MLB.com reports.

Another group, headed by Jim Crane, already has exclusive negotiating rights. Kenny Friedman, according to the report, already has been approved by MLB.

While Friedman's group is interested in buying the team, it sounds much more like a backup plan if Crane's deal does not go through, which some think could happen sometime this season.

Friedman told the Houston Chronicle that he recognizes Crane is the clear frontrunner: "I was pleasantly surprised with how quickly my application went through the Major League Baseball process and how quickly a number of investors rallied to the cause and said 'if you're going to do this, count me in," Friedman said. "If we had a few more weeks, I think we could have put this all together in a way that would have been very appealing to Drayton. But he's chosen to enter into a period of exclusive negotiation with Mr. Crane, not surprising given how far ahead they were in this deal, and so now we'll just wait and see what happens."

And McLane told the Chronicle: "Jim Crane is the only person we're negotiating with now.''

Even if Friedman's group got the team — which would create some questions in Houston since he is head of the agency that is essentially the team's landlord ­— it doesn't mean that Andrew Friedman would leave the Rays. (For what it's worth, under Stuart Sternberg's ownership, the top executives do not have contracts.) Interestingly, there also has been speculation in Houston that if Crane got the team he would try to hire Friedman, and/or Gerry Hunsicker, the former Astros GM who now works for the Rays as well.

Here is the MLB.com report:

Houston attorney Kenny Friedman confirmed Monday night he's spoken to Astros owner Drayton McLane about putting together a group to try to buy the Astros.

Friedman, the father of Tampa Bay Rays general manager Andrew Friedman, said Monday he has a group of investors lined up to make a possible proposal to McLane, but acknowledged he has to wait and see what happens with Houston businessman Jim Crane, who is trying to buy the club.

"It's been just a very short period of time, just a few weeks, but I've been very pleased with the response we've gotten from a number of people," Friedman said. "I understand they recently entered into an exclusive negotiating period with Mr. Crane and his group, which is not surprising. They're well ahead in their efforts. I'm going to continue to keep pushing until someone tells me not to."

McLane on Monday acknowledged the agreement with Crane, but said nothing is imminent. "We have an agreement where we're talking with Jim Crane right now, but have not reached an agreement with him," McLane said.

Friedman, a senior partner in the Houston office of Dallas-based law firm Haynes and Boone, is chairman of the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority. He said he's already been approved by Major League Baseball.

"We have a number of investors that are major investors," Friedman said. "We have a number of people that have said, 'If you need a deal, I think we're in good shape.'"

Friedman was asked about his confidence to put a deal together if Crane doesn't buy the team. "My confidence is 100 percent," he said. "I think it would take us a few weeks to put together a solid deal."

McLane announced in November he was accepting offers for the sale of the club he purchased over 18 years ago, and he said he desired local ownership.

Crane is the CEO and founder of Houston-based Crane Capital Group.

McLane said in December 2009 that he'd had a tentative agreement with Crane to purchase the Astros following the 2008 season, but a deal couldn't be reached.

Crane previously bid to purchase the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers. The negotiations are being handled by Steve Greenberg of Allen & Company, a New York-based investment bank. Greenberg said in March he was in discussions with multiple parties and that the process was "closer to the finish line than we are the starting line," but didn't acknowledge Crane's interest.

Report: Father of Tampa Bay Rays' Andrew Friedman looking to buy Houston Astros 05/03/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 3, 2011 1:54pm]
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