One sign: Phillies scouts have been spotted doing a second tour of the Tigers' farm system.
It's not hard to connect the dots and see what that could mean, with the Tigers needing a closer and with Jonathan Papelbon sitting in the Phillies bullpen.
Connecting dots doesn't always lead to a trade, and people who speak regularly with Tigers management continue to insist they won't be involved in a Papelbon trade. Money is reportedly the biggest roadblock, with Papelbon making $13 million a year through 2015 (with a vesting option for 2016).
Tigers owner Mike Ilitch has never been shy about spending, but the word is the money will be more of an issue this time around.
Papelbon's contract could be an impediment to any trade, whether to the Tigers or anyone else. Papelbon's reputation doesn't help, either. He didn't leave the Red Sox on the best of terms, with more than one source suggesting they wouldn't take him back under any circumstances.
The Tigers continue to look for bullpen help, even though Joaquin Benoit has done well as their most recent closer. In six appearances since the Tigers dumped Jose Valverde for the second time, Benoit is 3 for 3 in save chances and has allowed just one run in 6 1/3 innings, with one walk and 11 strikeouts.