ATLANTA — The 2021 Mets were mercifully pushed to the past tense Sunday with one last underwhelming performance to punctuate a brutal season.
The Braves, which won a fourth straight NL East title and will face the Brewers in the upcoming NLDS, used the Mets as a punching bag in a final tune-up for the postseason. The Mets lost, 5-0, at Truist Park and were headed back to Queens to collect belongings and begin another offseason of upheaval.
The Mets finished 77-85, in third place, after leading the NL East for 103 days this season. No previous team to lead a division for that long had finished with a losing record. The Mets missed the playoffs for a fifth straight year and finished with a losing record for the fourth time during that stretch, under three different managers.
First on the agenda will likely be resolving manager Luis Rojas’ status. Team president Sandy Alderson last week indicated he planned to move quickly in that direction, before a new president of baseball operations is hired. Rojas’ two-year contract is set to expire, but the Mets hold a club option for 2022.
The Mets are 103-119 in two losing seasons under Rojas, who was elevated from quality control coach in January 2020 after Carlos Beltran departed the organization, without managing a game, in the fallout from the Astros’ illegal sign-stealing scheme. Rojas was praised by Alderson and team owner Steve Cohen for keeping the Mets in first place during a first half in which the team was besieged by injuries. But the Mets went 29-45 in the second half and barely managed to stay relevant in the September pennant race after falling behind the Braves and Phillies.
Alderson is also expected to decide quickly on the coaching staff. From that group, pitching coach Jeremy Hefner (whose expiring contract holds a club option for 2022) is the most likely to return based on the team’s success in that area this season, despite significant absences — including ace Jacob deGrom, who last pitched on July 7.
The team’s search for a president of baseball operations could take longer, as Alderson is expected to pursue big fish such as Theo Epstein, Billy Beane and David Stearns. Both Beane and Stearns are under contract, with Oakland and Milwaukee, respectively, and would require permission from their clubs to speak with the Mets. Epstein, who has won three World Series rings with the Red Sox and Cubs, is a free agent as a consultant for MLB.
Javier Baez, Michael Conforto, Marcus Stroman and Noah Syndergaard are the impending free agents on which the Mets must decide, and the team will be facing decisions on players such as Dominic Smith, Jeff McNeil and J.D. Davis.
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