Consider wisely before trading McCutchen

PITTSBURGH — The debate rages on about whether the Pirates should trade Andrew McCutchen.

It’s all too early.

McCutchen has finally been hitting at a hot clip. Maybe it’s a coincidence that he finally started hitting when he moved to the No. 6 spot in the batting order. Maybe not.

The fact is McCutchen has been the Pirates’ best offensive player for the past several weeks and rebounded from a point where his batting average flattened out at .200.

This is the last guaranteed year of his contract. There’s a team option at $14 million for next season. The non-waiver trade deadline is July 31. That doesn’t mean a deal can’t be made before then. There’s also the possibility of trading after that if waivers can be secured, but that’s probably not a gamble worth taking.

The decision on trading McCutchen hinges on several factors. Are the Pirates contenders as the deadline nears? If not, it’s probably best to deal him because he isn’t coming back next season anyway.

If the team is in contention and McCutchen continues to hit, can it sacrifice a productive bat and still compete for a playoff spot? Remember, Starling Marte is banned from postseason play in 2017 as part of his steroids-related suspension.

If the Pirates decided to deal, what kind of market is there for McCutchen? Would teams still see him as a key element for their offense, or would he be viewed as more of a player who augments a lineup?

Would a sudden and unexpected need make a team more likely to overpay for McCutchen? What happens if a contender loses an outfielder to an injury and needs an emergency fill-in to finish the season?

What other experienced outfielders might also be available? What can the Pirates realistically get for a player over 30 who is at the end of a contract?

If McCutchen goes, who replaces him? Does Adam Frazier continue to play the outfield regularly with Marte returning from suspension?

There are a lot of different factors to consider and still five weeks remaining to make an important decision.

Picking the best

Gil Brandt, the longtime Dallas Cowboys personnel chief who now works for, recently picked his top 16 quarterbacks of all-time.

Terry Bradshaw is No. 10. Ben Roethlisberger didn’t make the list.

It’s hard to understand exactly what his standards were. If it’s winning championships, then Jim Kelly, Fran Tarkenton and Warren Moon (Nos. 15, 14 and 13) wouldn’t be on the list.

It’s hard to compare quarterbacks across eras, which would account for why only two old-timers (Sammy Baugh, No. 12, and Otto Graham No. 4) made the list. Bart Starr isn’t there, and all he did was consistently lead Green Bay to championships in the 1960s. Meanwhile, Dan Marino, who played in one Super Bowl and didn’t win is ninth.

Roger Staubach (No. 8) actually rates ahead of Bradshaw even though he lost twice in Super Bowls against Bradshaw.

For the record, Tom Brady is first. But how does Peyton Manning finish second, one spot ahead of Joe Montana and three in front of John Elway?

Oh well, the purpose of such lists is to draw attention and get people talking and writing about them. It worked again.

Shutting down

Roethlisberger had his football camp for kids over the weekend. He said he’ll shut down throwing until training camp opens in order to protect his arm.

He said he doesn’t like to throw much in the offseason because it causes his arm to wear down by the end of the regular season.

Oh my, we’ve gotten to the point where even quarterbacks are on pitch counts.

Mehno can be reached at