Yesterday, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro seemed to confirm that at the very least, he was in talks with the St. Louis Cardinals, Toronto Blue Jays, and Boston Red Sox. Today, in an article from Gordon Wittenmyer, he notes that the Cubs are also in the mix, as they have "continued to touch base with the Phillies on Cole Hamels". While most teams at the very least kick the tires on all possibilities, the Cubs shouldn't be viewed as a long shot. After a quick look at their current roster construction, and their upcoming prospects, it's clear that they'll eventually trade some away.
At the moment, their infield from left to right is Kris Bryant, Starlin Castro, Addison Russell, and Anthony Rizzo. If Bryant sticks at third base, (and it looks like he can), some of the Cubs' prospects simply don't have a path to the big leagues. Javier Baez is making his return to AAA today, and while he didn't make the active roster out of spring training, he's still a legitimate prospect. With Castro, Russell and Baez all set for the middle infield, someone will need to be moved.
In addition to Baez, the Cubs also have first base prospect Daniel Vogelbach. He's currently in AA hitting .369/.481/.615 with a wRC+ of 222 and a walk rate higher than his strikeout rate. The unfortunate news is that Vogelbach is 100% VogelBlocked in the major leagues by Rizzo. If they played in the American League, or the DH was introduced to the NL, then he'd likely have a spot on this team, but without being able to play another position he doesn't fit. The Cubs essentially have the best "problem" possible; they have too many great prospects.
A team that has a gaping need for prospects however is the Phillies. They have very little young talent, and their farm system is not good; a bad recipe for future success. Very rarely is there a clear win-win trade in baseball, however these two teams are in a unique position. The Phillies need a permanent solution at both middle infield positions, as well as a first baseman to take over for Ryan Howard. The Cubs on the other hand have three middle infielders who are all under 25 years old, and one first base prospect they can't find room for.
While the general profile of "the prospect" has changed in recent years, and is much more prized because of the minimal cost and extreme opportunity they represent, selling high can still be a good thing. The return would be Hamels, and his team is willing to eat some of an already very reasonable contract. Hamels is set to receive $94 million over the next four seasons, which comes out to an AAV of $23.5 million. If Hamels were on the open market, there's no doubt that he'd eclipse both the annual amount of his current contract, and the total years guaranteed. Even if the Phillies weren't willing to eat some of this contract, it would still be a great deal on the part of the buying team because of his overall value.
The Cubs are already in contention mode, and the Phillies need to get fully onboard with their rebuilding plan. Hamels would be a great addition to the Cubs rotation, and regardless of what prospects Philadelphia would receive in any deal, they'd immediately become some of their highest rated. It's not likely to happen soon, and there's no indication of a front runner at this point, but the Cubs make an awful lot of sense.