You don’t make a splash just to make a splash. But as the baseball trade deadline and NFL free-agency collide in a gigantic, heaving rumor-fest, one thing is clear around here.
The Tigers need to make a big move more than the Lions. I know that disappoints manic Lions fans who are sick of being patient, but it’s the truth.
That means GM Dave Dombrowski should try mightily to land Colorado righty Ubaldo Jimenez, the best available pitcher, a 27-year-old top-of-rotation guy with two more years on his contract. The price has been too steep for any suitor so far, but I have no doubt the Tigers will offer prize prospect Jacob Turner.
No way could Dombrowski give up Turner and Rick Porcello, because the whole notion is to land another starter, not replace one. There are other possibilities but Jimenez is the target, and probably was the target before owner Mike Ilitch came out this week and strongly underlined his win-now goal.
The Tigers are in the classic spot where a trade is needed by Sunday’s 4 p.m. deadline. They’re barely leading a weak division, and the franchise hasn’t won a division title in 24 years. And their rotation has one (maybe two) glaring holes, with Brad Penny completely hit-or-miss in the No. 4 spot.
The Lions, meanwhile, aren’t operating under any illusion that one free-agent star will put them over the top. GM Martin Mayhew and coach Jim Schwartz have been explicit in their desire to build through the draft, not with tons of free-agents. If you trust their plan so far, well, you’ll have to trust them on this — for now.
Besides, I don’t think the Lions ever had a shot at star cornerback Nnadmi Asomugha, who signed with the Eagles. They’re waiting for prices to drop on players such as Tennessee linebacker Stephen Tulloch, 26, who would fit nicely.
Once an NFL player hits 30, he becomes a scary proposition. Green Bay linebacker Nick Barnett is 30 and still viable, but also a risk. Beyond that, cornerback Johnathan Joseph would have been a fine pickup, but he signed with Houston.
The Lions have to get cornerbacks and linebackers, and maybe they’ll pull a shocking trade. Philadelphia might shop cornerback Asante Samuel now, which would be a terrific grab for anyone.
The Lions can dream of Samuel (or someone like him). The Tigers need Jimenez (or someone like him). It’s a key distinction, whether you like or not.