2012 MLB Winter Meetings: Houston Astros Move To AL West, Chicago Cubs' Division At 5 Teams

The 2012 MLB offseason is underway with the Winter Meetings in full force, as the league has already announced major changes to the structure of the MLB.

The 2012 MLB Winter Meetings are in progress in Nashville, Tennessee, but though the meetings are just in their third day, the MLB has already announced some major changes to its structure and future.

The first major announcement of the 2012 MLB offseason concerns the Houston Astros. The MLB owners unanimously approved the sale of the Houston Astros to Jim Crane. As a part of the sale, they will leave the crowded NL Central division.

Effective at the beginning of the 2013 season, the Houston Astros will join the AL West division. The move will result in the balancing of the current division alignment, which has burdened the NL Central with six teams for over a decade:

Mlb_divisions_medium

The Chicago Cubs, who finished in 5th place in the 2011 season, will -- as a result of the Astrsos sale and move -- join the league in playing interleague games all season. Because the AL and NL will have uneven numbers of teams, the Cubs 2012 schedule will feature interleague games all season, which also means NL teams may end up using the DH much more than in previous seasons.

For more updates on the Chicago Cubs and all Chicago sports, stay tuned to SB Nation Chicago. For more updates on the MLB Winter Meetings, check out Baseball Nation featuring Rob Neyer.

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