Who are the top free agents still available?

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Most of the big-name free agents are off the market with a little over a month to go before pitchers and catchers start reporting to spring training, but based on Matthew Pouliot’s ranking of the top 111 free agents here are the best players still available:

1. Carl Pavano (RHP, Twins)

2. Andy Pettitte (LHP, Yankees)

3. Rafael Soriano (RHP, Rays)

4. Vladimir Guerrero (OF, Rangers)

5. Brian Fuentes (LHP, Twins)

6. Manny Ramirez (OF, White Sox)

7. Johnny Damon (OF, Tigers)

8. Jeff Francis (LHP, Rockies)

9. Grant Balfour (RHP, Rays)

10. Jon Rauch (RHP, Twins)

11. Chris Young (RHP, Padres)

12. Jim Thome (DH, Twins)

Those dozen players are the only names still available from Pouliot’s top 50.

Of the 12 players, four (Guerrero, Ramirez, Damon, Thome) are viewed primarily as designated hitters, four are relievers (Soriano, Fuentes, Balfour, Rauch), two are starters coming back from injury (Francis, Young), and one is a starter leaning toward retirement (Pettitte).

And then there’s Pavano, who’s been the top free agent starting pitcher on the market since Cliff Lee signed with the Phillies in mid-December, yet still hasn’t decided whether or not to re-sign with the Twins.

Astros extend winning streak to 11 games

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The Astros rallied late to keep their winning streak alive, extending it to 11 games with a 7-4 victory over the Royals on Sunday afternoon. The club is now 48-25, leading the Mariners by a full game in the AL West.

The Royals took a 4-2 lead after three innings, but Brian McCann knocked in a run with a single in the top of the fourth to cut the deficit to one run. Carlos Correa hit a game-tying solo home run in the eighth. The Astros kept their foot on the gas, scoring two more runs on RBI singles from Evan Gattis and Marwin Gonzalez in the top of the eighth and another in the top of the ninth on Correa’s sacrifice fly.

Starter Lance McCullers allowed four runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks with nine strikeouts over six innings. Tony Sipp worked a scoreless seventh. Ken Giles did the same in the eighth. Hector Rondon finished off the win in the ninth, working around a one-out walk with a game-ending double play.

After winning all 10 games on their road trip against the Rangers, Athletics, and Royals, the Astros will head home for a nine-game homestand against the Rays, Royals, and Blue Jays. Each club is below .500.