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10/18/10 4:01 PM ET

Inbox: Will Dunn sign before playoffs end?

Beat reporter Bill Ladson answers Nationals fans' questions

Are the Nationals going to sign Adam Dunn to an extension before the end of the playoffs? Dunn has given the team and fans great enthusiasm, hard work and a sense of commitment that was rarely seen in recent years. Of course, the Nats must also sign front-line pitchers for a successful year.
-- Breanna G., Laurel, Md.

As far as Dunn goes, I don't see it happening before the postseason comes to an end. Dunn will likely file for free agency then.

There is no question that Dunn is a better hitter than I thought. But what is overlooked here is his defense, which is below average. In my opinion, the Nationals can't afford another year of having a below-average first baseman.

I'm torn when it comes to Dunn. I believe Washington needs to get better defensively at first base. He is not the answer there. If the Nationals were in the American League, it would be a no-brainer to sign him, because he would be the designated hitter.

At the same time, how are they going to replace his bat? I don't have an answer to that question.

What are the chances of left-hander Matt Chico and catcher Jesus Flores making the Nationals' Opening Day roster?
-- Ben F., Suffolk, Va.

That's a great question. As of right now, one has to say not good. Let's start with Flores. The Nationals are high on Wilson Ramos, and he is likely to be the everyday catcher after the All-Star break. Ivan Rodriguez is expected to be back next year. Flores has options and can be sent to Triple-A Syracuse to start the season.

As for Chico, he had a respectable season, although, according to people that I've talked to, he has had problems getting out of the first inning. Chico must have a great Spring Training to make the Major League roster.

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How can the Nats be thinking about putting Josh Willingham at first if their focus is defense? He's an incredible defensive outfielder.
-- Craig F., Brampton, Ontario

No doubt, Willingham improved dramatically in the outfield, but I'm with the Nationals on this idea. It's time for the Nationals to be more athletic in the outfield. General manager Mike Rizzo said he wants a more athletic team. I would rather see a player like Roger Bernadina out there than Willingham.

I would like to see the Nationals go after left-hander Barry Zito. If they could get the Giants to eat half the money, then we would be getting a former 20-game winner for the price of Jason Marquis.
-- Steven W., Gaithersburg, Md.

It's time for the Nationals to develop their own pitchers instead of going after retreads. Zito hasn't done anything of significance in a long time. If he was that good, he would be on the Giants' playoff roster. Play the kids. Build from within.

Do you think second baseman Danny Espinosa is really ready for the Majors? He hit great his first week in Washington and probably below .200 after that. I would like to see him get at least another season in Syracuse and then see if he's ready for the big leagues.
-- Richard G., Syracuse, N.Y.

There is no question in my mind that Espinosa is ready for the big leagues. His defense alone will help the Nationals save a lot of runs. If he hits .250 or better, it will be a great year for him.

What do you think the future holds for reliever Jason Bergmann?
-- Anthony M., Seminole, Fla.

His days with the Nationals are over, of course. I could see him signing a Minor League deal with another team. I think the key for Bergmann is to stop being in denial about who he was as a pitcher and stop listening to the phony praise that certain media people gave him. He was not good in the Major Leagues for most of the last three years. If he comes to grips with it, I think he will be OK. I wish nothing but the best for Bergmann.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He can also be found on Twitter -- @washingnats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.