As previously tipped by the Journal News’ Peter Abraham, the Mets are in the running for free agent 2B Mark Grudzielanek writes the New York Daily News’ Sam Borden.

Mets GM Omar Minaya also is continuing to gauge the market for Kris Benson and numerous teams have contacted him about the righthander. Minaya is expected to advance discussions about moving Benson at next week’s winter meetings in Dallas, and it’s possible that he could deal Benson before he returns home in an effort to cut payroll and address one of the club’s needs at the same time.

Of course, one of those needs appears to be at second base. Minaya said last month that incumbent Kaz Matsui was the Mets’ second baseman “for now,” but it’s no secret that’s one area the GM is looking to upgrade.

Mark Grudzielanek (above), who hit .294 for the Cardinals last season, would seem to be a solid fit. Although he came up as a shortstop with the Expos, Grudzielanek now has played more games at second base and has committed just 56 errors over 775 games there.

The 35-year-old has a strong throwing arm and an excellent pivot at second base, scouts say, and would provide some stability for young shortstop Jose Reyes. The Cardinals would like to re-sign Grudzielanek and the Royals are also believed to have interest in him.

Minaya is still believed to have interest in Orioles reliever Jorge Julio, but the Mets backed off discussions for a swap with Baltimore when it became clear there was significant interest in Benson around the league. The Giants and Royals are believed to have made serious overtures regarding Benson, but it’s unclear if there’d be any match with either club.

Still, one source said he’d be “surprised” if the Mets don’t find somewhere to send Benson, who has two years and about $15.5 million coming to him over the next two seasons. Minaya ultimately may decide to make the trade with Baltimore, but just wants to be certain there isn’t a better package out there. Dealing Benson would free up some cash for the Mets to make another splashy move – trading for A’s lefty Barry Zito, perhaps, or, of course, Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez.

The Angels signed P Hector Carrasco to a two-year, $6.1 million contract yesterday, claiming that they’ve given up hope of retaining Paul Byrd, nor will they seek to keep Jerod Washburn.

Jay Strell forwards an item from yesterday’s Chicago Tribune in which Mark Gonzales claimed the Twins are considering signing Frank Thomas, who could be rendered a free agent by the White Sox as early as this week.

After finishing third in the division, the Twins are examining Thomas as well as fellow free-agent slugger Mike Piazza in an effort to bolster an offense that finished 13th in the league with a .259 batting average and was 12th in home runs and last in runs scored.

A healthy Thomas would give the Twins a bona fide power threat and take some pressure off 22-year-old catching standout Joe Mauer in the middle of the batting order. Minnesota is prepared to lose right fielder Jacque Jones to free agency but already has sought ways to improve its offense.

The White Sox, who already fortified their offense by acquiring Jim Thome and re-signing Paul Konerko, are expected to officially cut ties with Thomas no later than Wednesday by not offering him salary arbitration. That move would make them relinquish the rights to re-signing him to a major-league contract until May 1.

The Twins also are interested in switch-hitting third baseman Bill Mueller, whom the White Sox are trying to convince to sign as a utility player despite the presence of Joe Crede (who is coping with two herniated discs in his lower back).

The Dodgers have made offered free agent SS Rafael Furcal a 3 year, $40 million deal. With each lucrative contract dangled in front of Furcal, the more the Devil Rays are compelled to think they can command greater value in a trade for wife-slapping Julio Lugo.

The Yankees’ long-rumoured signed of reliever Kyle Farnsworth is finally official, though there’s no word on whether or not the club will tolerate the hard-living pitcher’s unique brand of free expression.

To the Yanks, let me set down some ground rules:

-The STUDLY FARNSWORTH ASS may and is encouraged to be appreciated. You dont got to be gay to appreciate the extreme hottness of my ass just like you dont got to be a artist to appreciate the Mona fuckin Lisa. But its on a ‘look do not touch’ basis.

-I got less than zero interest in your petty dramas. You try to involve me in em, dont go sobbin like I stole yo sisters virginity when I snap at you.

-If I have a bad game which hopefully I will not ever but the law of averages bein what it is I probly will, do not attempt to comfort me with hugs or sunshine or whatever gay shit works on such as Alex Rodriguez. I will break lockerroom equipment and you will be fuckin happy that it aint limbs Im crackin.

-If you have not heard my glorious tellings of the Paul Wilson Story or the Jeremy Affeldt Story be aware that you will hear them eventually.

-Rookies, first years, and kids what appear rookie enough by my standards even if they aint techincally rooks will be subject to wedgies as I see fit to distribute them.