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Had the Mets found themselves in the playoffs following their August collapse and a brief late-season surge that restored hope for a few weeks, some of the deficiencies that led to their demise might have been swept under the rug a bit.
But with the Mets at home during the postseason watching the Atlanta Braves win the World Series, following a season where there was turmoil in the front office and underperformance on the field, they enter the offseason with a ton of huge decisions to make.
Here are five of them...
How will the front office be reshaped?
This offseason, the Mets are attempting to do what they couldn't do last offseason -- find a new head of baseball operations and/or a general manager.
As SNY's Andy Martino has reported, there are a handful of executives now being considered after the Mets initially focused on Milwaukee Brewers president David Stearns (who wasn't allowed to interview) and Oakland Athletics executive Billy Beane (who removed his name from consideration for family reasons).
And the expectation is that the Mets will find a new top baseball exec, which could allow Sandy Alderson to do the non-baseball role he was initially hired for.
Who will replace Luis Rojas as manager?
When discussing modern field managers, it's always important to understand that their responsibilities go well beyond what happens on the field.
And for Rojas, he aced the job when it came to being the daily public face of the Mets in front of the media, being communicative with his players, being accountable, being calm in the face of adversity off the field but fiery on the field when needed, and being thoughtful in his explanations.
As far as the on-field component, which is obviously big, Rojas stumbled a bit late in the season after being mostly solid for most of the year.
Those stumbles included a string of late-game moves (some involving pitching changes and pinch-hitting decisions) that either backfired or made little sense -- and some odd after-the-fact reasoning that went along with them.
While the front office is reshaped, the Mets will also have to find Rojas' replacement, and one candidate they were interested in -- Bob Melvin -- recently left the A's to become manager of the San Diego Padres.
The qualifying offer conundrum
The Mets have decisions to make on more than half of their roster, and there are lots of key players who can walk as free agents.
Two of those players -- Michael Conforto and Noah Syndergaard -- have the option to leave but are candidates for the one-year qualifying offer worth roughly $20 million.
And the Mets, if they so choose, could extend the QO to both of them.
If the Mets are basing their decisions on the body of work Conforto and Syndergaard have put together during their careers and not just on 2021, it's a no-brainer to extend the QO to Conforto, who would likely reject it.
In the case of Syndergaard, it would be a bit of a shock if he rejected the QO. And his presence in the rotation in 2022 could be a game-changer. But will the Mets extend the offer? If not, they should still try to bring him back.
How to deal with the Jacob deGrom question mark
Regardless of the words you use to describe the injury to deGrom's right elbow (specifically his UCL tear that has resolved itself), here are the facts...
His 2021 season, which was on track to be one of the most dominant pitching seasons in the history of the sport, was derailed because of the injury
DeGrom suffered a setback when initially trying to return and was shut down
It will be impossible to know how healthy deGrom will be in 2022 until he is out there pitching every fifth day
With Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman free agents and with no ace-level pitching prospects close to the majors, the last thing the Mets needed was a giant question mark surrounding deGrom. But that's what they have.
One step toward shoring up the rotation would be bringing back Syndergaard, and another would be re-signing Stroman.
And as the Mets head toward 2022 with deGrom's health still in question and the team intent on competing for a championship, how they fill out the rotation will be among the biggest things to watch.
Should Javier Baez be re-signed?
The Mets' offense is unsettled, and there's a chance there will be lots of turnover and some new faces in the starting lineup come 2022.
Should Baez be brought back?
New York's offense as a whole was putrid in 2021, and the issues the team had with runners in scoring position were glaring.
And while a hitter like Baez with so much swing-and-miss in his game is not an ideal fit for a lineup that has trouble with situational hitting, it can be argued that he is a strong fit overall for what the team needs -- especially if they reshape the offense elsewhere, and especially if Baez's new plate discipline is something he can sustain.
Specifically, what Baez costs you with his strikeout tendencies can be made up for with his power, speed, base running ability, and defense.
Baez will be entering his age-29 season in 2022, and there will be plenty of other options on the market, including Kris Bryant.