The owner of the Houston Astros announced yesterday he would consider selling the team, preferably to local ownership.
Speculation that John McMullen, majority owner of Houston Sports Association, is planning to sell has been circulating for more than a year, mostly because of McMullen's age (71) and the increasing value of the team over the past two years.
McMullen said in a prepared statement, "Having been so completely involved over 12 years with HSA and the Astros, the time has come for me to devote more of my time and energies to my family and my many other interests."
McMullen also said he wants a local interest to buy the team. Sources have said HSA's current value could be as high as $185-200 million. McMullen, a shipbuilder with offices in New York and Washington, controls more than 80 percent of the sports association.
The Washington area's baseball interests were divided on the viability of approaching HSA about purchasing the Astros and moving them. John Akridge, leader of a group seeking a team that would play at RFK Stadium, expressed preliminary interest. Bart Fisher, leader of a group seeking a team that would play in Northern Virginia, did not.
"We'd probably take a look at it," Akridge said. "But you can't move the Astrodome, so there are a few facts that need to be known. We'll try to find out about them."
Akridge said a member of his group had contacted San Francisco Giants owner Robert Lurie following the election this month in which voters in Santa Clara rejected a proposal to provide financing for a new stadium that would have allowed Lurie to carry through with his desire to move the Giants from Candlestick Park.
Fisher said his group is concentrating only on obtaining one of the two expansion franchises the National League will add in 1993. . . .
A full World Series share on the champion Cincinnati Reds is worth $112,533.70, the commissioner's office said, while a full share on the American League champion Oakland Athletics is worth $68,960.54. The Reds voted 32 full shares, seven partial shares and 14 cash grants.. . .
In a move thought to be insurance against losing Dave Righetti, the New York Yankees signed free agent Steve Farr to a three-year, $6.3 million.
Farr, a DeMatha High School graduate who attended American University, was 13-7 last season for the Kansas City Royals with a 1.98 ERA. He pitched 51 games in relief and made six starts.
Righetti became a free agent and is threatening to leave unless he gets a five-year contract. . . .
Free agent Ken Dayley (4-3, 2.87 ERA, 12 saves for the St. Louis Cardinals last season) signed a $6.3 million, three-year contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. . . .
The Detroit Tigers signed outfielder John Shelby to one-year contract worth $525,000.