What happens now? Forecasting the futures of Cespedes, Murphy

NEW YORK -- The New York Mets have several pending free agents that are likely to be elsewhere next season, including Yoenis Cespedes, Daniel Murphy and Tyler Clippard.

Still, given the standout young pitching, manager Terry Collins noted the Amazin's are well-positioned for the future.

"Obviously we know we've got some guys that could go after free agency," Collins said. "But this game -- and I truly believe this -- it's about having good starting pitching. It's going nowhere. … The future is pretty bright still. Instead of saying, ‘Wow, we're losing this guy and this guy and this guy,' we're still going to run some pretty good pitching at you every night. Hopefully we can get some guys back here and some guys signed. If not, go out and find somebody else, but we're still going to be able to compete."

With the Mets eliminated in five games in the World Series, here are five questions heading into the winter:

1. What's Collins' future?

General manager Sandy Alderson had Collins manage during the final guaranteed year of his contract in 2015. It's a no-brainer that Collins will return to manage the Amazin's again next season. The question now is: How long does the front office commit to TC? Figure two years, since Collins is 66 years old and wants to retire after a couple of more seasons anyway. Collins' contract figures to be the first area addressed by Alderson in coming days.

2. Will the Mets re-sign Cespedes?

Alderson maintained in his memoir that the Mets were willing to spend as much as $175 million to sign Robinson Cano as a free agent during the 2013-14 offseason. So the money is apparently there for the right player.

At some level, the Mets are interested in re-signing Cespedes. Still, Cespedes told ESPN Deportes' Marly Rivera that he wants at least a six-year deal. Cespedes already has turned 30.

Would Alderson have the stomach to commit to Cespedes through at least his age 35 season? That's highly unlikely.

And how aggressive will other suitors be given how strongly Cespedes contributed to the Mets, at least prior to the World Series?

Mets officials privately note that Cespedes' body of work with the Mets during the regular season exceeded his overall production in his four-year major league career. So clearly the front office is not going to get caught up in an emotional frenzy.

The strong likelihood is Cespedes is playing elsewhere next season.

3. Has Murphy played his final game as a Met?

The Amazin's have telegraphed for a long time that they do not have any intention of re-signing Murphy. So while you can never say never, it is highly likely that Murphy will be in a different uniform in 2016. After his National League Championship Series MVP performance, Murphy might get four years at $14 million or more annually.

Assuming the Mets have sufficient bats elsewhere in the lineup and do not need to add a middle-infield bat as a boost to the lineup, the Mets are prepared to have Dilson Herrera as part of a middle-infield combination with Wilmer Flores and Ruben Tejada.

What did Murphy's postseason success did influence? The Mets are now likely to make him a $15.8 million qualifying offer. So assuming Murphy declines to come back on a one-year deal at that salary, the Mets will get a draft pick.

4. Will the Mets trade the Dark Knight?

Having a rotation of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler -- once Wheeler returns in July 2016 or thereabouts from Tommy John surgery -- might give the Mets the best young rotation in baseball. And, if history holds, Harvey should perform better in 2016 than this season, since he is a year further removed from his Tommy John surgery.

The educated speculation is that if the Mets are ever going to deal Harvey, the 2016-17 offseason will be the time. Harvey is first-time eligible for arbitration this winter, so his salary -- while jumping from close to the major league minimum -- should be less than $6 million next season. His price tag will really ascend the following two years. Harvey then is eligible for free agency after the 2018 season.

The innings-cap controversy somewhat defused after Harvey took the baseball for full-length outings in his final two starts of the regular season, then mostly without limitations during the postseason. Still, all the September agita certainly got the ball rolling toward a potential trade down the road.

5. What do the Amazin's need this offseason?

Just about all of the players the Mets acquired this year are eligible for free agency after the World Series: Cespedes, Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson, Clippard, Eric O'Flaherty and Jerry Blevins. The other acquisition, Addison Reed, made $4.875 million this season and is eligible for arbitration. The Mets tentatively are planning to tender Reed, so he should return as the primary setup man for Jeurys Familia in 2016.

The Mets' primary area of need will be a high-end outfielder to offset the expected loss of Cespedes' bat. With Michael Conforto and Curtis Granderson likely to be full-time corner outfielders in 2016, the import ideally would be a lefty-hitting center fielder with power to complement righty-hitting Juan Lagares. Free-agent-to-be Colby Rasmus, most recently of the Houston Astros, would seem to fit that profile.

The Mets also could use a lefty specialist. Blevins' twice-fractured forearm might be unfortunate for him, but it potentially allows for his return at a cost-effective salary in 2016 until he reestablishes himself.

In addition to the salaries of the midseason acquisitions, the free agents coming off the books include Bartolo Colon ($11 million), Murphy ($8 million), Bobby Parnell ($3.7 million), Blevins ($2.4 million), Dillon Gee ($5.3 million) and, presumably, Jenrry Mejia ($2.595 million, although he collected only three weeks of that salary due to a pair of PED suspensions).

A lot of that money coming off the books will go to raises, though, so it's not like there's a ton of cash on hand without bumping up the payroll. Harvey and Familia are first-time arbitration eligible, and Lucas Duda and Ruben Tejada are due for raises, too. Meanwhile, Michael Cuddyer's contract calls for a $4 million raise, while Jonathon Niese and Lagares' salaries jumps $2 million apiece.