MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Inbox: Who should the Nats target at Trade Deadline?

Beat reporter Bill Ladson answers questions from fans

Inbox: Who should the Nats target at Trade Deadline?

What do you think is the Nationals' biggest need before the non-waiver Trade Deadline?
-- Renee L., Washington

I realize the Nationals are looking for bullpen help, but I think they need another bat, especially at the top of the lineup. If they can't acquire a top of the order bat, I would love to see Jayson Werth at the top spot. The guy knows how to work the count and his on-base percentage is currently at .342. Nats leadoff hitters, which have included Ben Revere, Michael Taylor and Trea Turner, were batting a combined .211 with an on-base percentage of .256 entering Tuesday's action against the Dodgers.

If Werth solves the problems at the top of the lineup, I would like to see the Nationals acquire a power hitter with postseason pedigree. I think Carlos Beltran would be a perfect fit for the Nats. That could possibly mean putting Bryce Harper in center field if they did acquire Beltran. Jay Bruce doesn't have that postseason pedigree, but his best years were under Dusty Baker.

Do you think Gio Gonzalez will get his act together and have a better second half of the season?
-- Tracey L., Camp Springs, Md.

I think he will as long as his health is great. In a sense, he is playing for next season. The Nationals have a $12 million team option on Gonzalez for next year. If he doesn't have a good second half, the Nats would likely buy him out for $500,000.

Is there any chance Turner will play center field, at least for the short term? What is his future like with the Nationals?
-- Joanna J., Silver Springs, Md.

I couldn't tell what his future will be with the Nationals, because shortstop and second base are locked up because of Danny Espinosa and Daniel Murphy, respectively, and rightfully so. It also looks like Baker doesn't have any plans of playing Turner in center field. As Baker put it, "This is not an audition." There is talk of Turner being available in a trade. We'll see what happens in the next two weeks.

I have concerns about Joe Ross' health. When will he be back on the field?
-- Bob B., Catonsville, Md.

The Nationals hope Ross is ready for the Padres series, which is this weekend. If he's not ready, we will likely see Reynaldo Lopez get another start.

What do you think of the Nats' bench? It has been really productive this year
-- Jose B., Washington

It's their most productive bench since 2012. Every time Clint Robinson and Stephen Drew are in the starting lineup, they always come through in the clutch. I'm most impressed with Drew because he stopped being a pull hitter and is hitting all over the field. One thing I can say about Baker, he knows how to put a bench together. Under him, the reserves are going to get their share of playing time.

Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002.and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.