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Source: Mets reach out to Rafael Furcal for upgrade at shortstop

St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Rafael Furcal waits to

St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Rafael Furcal waits to take batting practice during spring training. (Feb. 19, 2013) Credit: AP

Rafael Furcal had been considered one of the better shortstops in baseball until injuries took their toll the last few years. But the Mets apparently see enough in Furcal to consider bringing him to Queens.

The Mets have reached out to Furcal, an industry source confirmed Tuesday, the first day teams were allowed to discuss contracts with outside free agents.

Furcal, 36, missed all of 2013 with the Cardinals while recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery, though he's expected to be ready for the 2014 season.

With more than $40 million coming off the books, the Mets are expected to engage higher-profile targets at shortstop, including Jhonny Peralta and Stephen Drew. But with a dearth of shortstops on the market, Peralta and Drew are positioned to draw heavy interest from other clubs looking to upgrade.

For teams willing to roll the dice on his health, Furcal -- a three-time All-Star and career .281 hitters over 13 seasons -- may prove to be a lower-cost fallback option. In 2012, he hit .264 with five homers and 49 RBIs in an All-Star campaign for the Cardinals. It was the first season of a two-year, $14-million contract. But he missed all of last year with an elbow injury.

The Mets have placed a high priority on upgrading at shortstop, where Ruben Tejada was replaced by Omar Quintanilla midway through the season. Tejada hit just .202 with no homers and 10 RBIs in 57 games. His season was marred by underperformance and injury. Though he's only 24, he has fallen out of favor with the Mets.

As a whole, National League shortstops posted an on-base plus slugging of .681. But Mets shortstops lagged far behind the curve, posting a .561 OPS, which was last in the NL.

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