The New York Mets on Monday declined to pick up their option on manager Luis Rojas for 2022. Given that Rojas guided the Mets to consecutive losing seasons and given that he wasn't owner Steve Cohen's hand-picked manager, the move is hardly surprising. 

The selection process for the Mets' next dugout leader will of course be closely followed this coming offseason, but it's not the most important hire they'll make in advance of the 2022 season. Of more importance is whom Cohen hires to run the Mets' baseball operations department. 

There's a void at the top of baseball ops because of related upheavals during the 2021 season. The Mets under Cohen have already dismissed one GM because it came to light that Jared Porter sent unsolicited sexually explicit images to a female reporter while employed by the Cubs as their director of pro scouting in 2016. As well, Porter's replacement with the Mets, acting GM Zack Scott, was placed administrative leave by the team following his drunk driving arrest. Given the importance of the void and given the Mets' recent dubious efforts in due diligence -- especially with the Porter hire -- Cohen and team president Sandy Alderson absolutely need to nail this hire. 

Not surprisingly, the Mets are thought to be aiming high. Two towering names bandied about quite frequently are those of Theo Epstein and Billy Beane. 

Epstein, 47, is already one of the most decorated front office execs of the modern era. Most notably, he served as architect of Red Sox team that broke that organization's title drought in 2004 and then won it all again in 2007. Epstein achieved a similar feat on the North Side of Chicago, where in 2016 he led the Cubs to their first World Series title in 108 years. Epstein in two prominent, highly pressurized environments has proved capable of building championship rosters in the presence of abundant financial resources. With the Cohen-led Mets, he'd be an under an owner that seems committed to contention and investment in player payroll. 

As for Beane, now 59, he's been part of the A's front office since the early 1990s. Given that long tenure -- and his long stint at the top of the org chart -- he may be looking for a new challenge, possibly with a team that doesn't have the financial challenges (self-inflicted or otherwise) that Oakland has. Complicating matters, however, is that Beane has a small ownership stake with the A's, and he'd have to divest himself of that before taking any role with the Mets. Also, Beane, currently the club's vice president of baseball operations, would require permission from A's ownership to make such a lateral-seeming move. 

One weighty consideration is Alderson's presence and how said presence will affect the search for a new baseball ops lead decision-maker. As team president, Alderson in a conventional structure could wield power over baseball ops decisions if he chose to do so. Maybe Beane would be comfortable with that arrangement, as he mentored under Alderson in Oakland and by all accounts still has a close relationship with him. But what about Epstein? Given his laurels and high demand across an array of sectors, Epstein has a great deal of leverage. Would he accept anything less than total control of baseball ops? Would he be willing to work under Alderson even if promised total control of baseball ops? 

Those questions are unanswerable right now, but those questions may need answering if Epstein is to become a truly viable candidate in Queens. 

Either Beane or Epstein would be a headline-grabbing home run hire by Cohen, and that's precisely what he needs. Either would rouse the fan base (in a good way) and lend instant credibility to a role that's lacked it. The rumors surrounding Beane and Epstein have been so strong of late that there's also pressure building to land one of them. As detailed above, though, neither hire would be a straight-forward and simple one. Cohen would have to sell them on his level of commitment and their autonomy in the role, and that may be a complicated sales pitch. 

Anything less than Cohen or Epstein in Queens is going to be a disappointment for Mets partisans, but at least that's a feeling to which they've grown accustomed.