2) The Mets must acquire an ace-level pitcher
The Mets are fortunate to have Max Scherzer signed through the 2023 season. He can be expected to be the ace or the number two starter for this team and is still a very elite pitcher despite how awful the end of his season was.
The Mets vision last season was to just get to the postseason with deGrom and Scherzer healthy and have them pitch their way to a World Series title. They were healthy, but did not pitch like the pitchers they have always been.
I believe this formula of two aces can work, the Mets just have to find someone else now. Whether that's Justin Verlander, Carlos Rodon, or a trade remains to be seen, but they have to find a way to land an ace.
My preference would be Verlander as he's better than Rodon right now and might honestly be a better bet to stay on the field. Rodon made 31 starts this past season but had never made 30 starts in a season before.
In addition to those risks, Verlander won't require a very lengthy deal like Rodon. Either option is fine, but I'd lean Verlander.
A trade could make sense, but the high-level arms like Corbin Burnes and Shane Bieber who we thought might be available don't seem to be. A free agent signing makes the most sense, and Verlander should be the guy.