Terry Collins says 2017 may be last season as Mets manager

Terry Collins said 2017 may be his final year as manager of the New York Mets, but he will wait until after that season to gauge how he feels physically before deciding.

"I just need to re-evaluate at the end of this coming year what's going on, where I am, how I'm feeling," Collins told ESPN.com on Thursday. "I've always said a lot of it will be dictated by how I'm feeling. This was a tough year."

In June, Collins was hospitalized overnight in Milwaukee and missed the series finale against the Brewers at Miller Park after becoming ill pregame. He said that medical issue did not resurface, but the physical demands of the job can be challenging. Collins, who at 67 is the oldest manager in MLB, felt particularly worn down when the Mets had to play a day game on Labor Day in Cincinnati after playing in New York the previous night on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball.

Asked whether next season would be his last if next October he feels physically like he does now, Collins said: "That's right."

He added about the travel: "It takes a toll on everybody. You talk to the players. If you noticed, that [Labor Day game] was the day we gave everybody off because they were stinking beat. This travel is hard, especially with the late-night scheduling that is prevalent throughout baseball. There are so many night games where you're traveling after the game and getting into towns at 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning. And the next thing you know, if you ever have a day game pop up on you, it's tough to do."

After reaching the World Series in 2015, the Mets were bounced this year in the National League wild-card game by the San Francisco Giants. Still, given season-ending injuries to starting pitchers Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz and infielders David Wright and Neil Walker, plus other losses, Collins felt a sense of accomplishment in navigating the 2016 Mets to the postseason. The Mets had been two games under .500 and stood 5½ games out of the second wild-card spot after an Aug. 19 loss at San Francisco.

"Last year was a little different dynamic," Collins said. "We had that really, really powerful young pitching staff that was coming on right at the right time. This year, to have them disappear, I think what we accomplished with all the injuries really took some tremendous character on the players' part and the coaches' and everybody else. Getting to the World Series is really hard, as we all know, but from where we were in July to where we finished was pretty impressive."

Despite consecutive postseason appearances, there are uncertainties entering 2017. For one, Harvey (thoracic outlet syndrome), deGrom (ulnar nerve in his right elbow) and Matz (bone spur) all will be coming off surgeries. And Zack Wheeler, another projected member of the rotation, has missed two full seasons since undergoing Tommy John surgery in March 2015.

The Mets have safety nets with Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo and the potential re-signing of Bartolo Colon, but getting their heralded young rotation healthy remains of utmost importance. The lone member of that hyped staff not to be coming off surgery in spring training will be Noah Syndergaard. He was diagnosed with a bone spur this past summer that was deemed too insignificant to surgically remove now.

"I think you can only go with what past research and past things have shown, and that's that these guys will bounce back," Collins said. "As we saw from Zack Wheeler, not everything is etched in stone. Fourteen months after Tommy John isn't a guarantee you're going to be ready to pitch. But you're looking at the end of [2017] spring training, 24 months after Tommy John, there's no reason to think that [Wheeler] can't be ready. Matt was a three-month [recovery time]. DeGrom's is a three-month. Steven Matz's is a three-month.

"We'll make sure we don't push them too much early in spring training, so that they are ready. Coming out of spring training, are they ready to go seven innings? Probably not, some of those guys. But I do believe that certainly as we get closer to the end of spring training, those guys should be ready to pitch."

The Mets fully expect slugger Yoenis Cespedes to opt out three days after the World Series.

Asked about his confidence level that Cespedes will return to the Mets, Collins said: "I have no idea."

If Cespedes declares free agency and signs elsewhere, the hope is that Jay Bruce -- whose $13 million option for 2017 will be picked up -- will help offset the loss.

Still, Collins noted about the potential loss of Cespedes: "That's a big piece to miss."

Collins added that the Mets desperately need catcher Travis d'Arnaud to rebound after hitting .247 with four homers and 15 RBIs in 75 games this past season. The oft-injured d'Arnaud spent nearly two months on the disabled list with a rotator cuff strain.

Collins could not say whether it was time for the organization to start plotting other options behind the plate.

"First of all, the expiration side, that's [general manager] Sandy [Alderson]'s department," Collins said. "I only worry about the guys we've got. And right now we've got to get Travis d'Arnaud better. We've got to get him better. No. 1, we've got to keep him somewhat healthy. You can't keep losing your mainline guys for two months. He had 250 at-bats when he should have 500. You're talking about a guy who missed half the season. We've got to get him better.

"He is going to be one of our No. 1 projects in spring training. We've got to get this guy back, and we've got to get his bat going. If he is what we thought he's going to be, he's a middle-of-the-lineup guy who can do damage from the right side. And you know how bad we need that."