So far, we’ve seen the Yankees show no fiscal restraint when it came to Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, and Carlos Beltran — not only committing huge dollars, but signing each through their mid-30s (with Beltran being signed until 39).

That’s why it was odd to see the Yankees show “discipline” when they passed on 2B Omar Infante, when his contract ended up being the most reasonable of all, at an AAV of $7.5 million over 4 years.

For comparison, Brandon Phillips (who some fans wanted in exchange for Brett Gardner) is owed $50 million over the next 4 years.

With free agent options dwindling, it’s looking more likely the Yankees will need to trade for a second baseman. If Gardner is the trade chip the Yankees are dangling, it will be difficult to get equal value for him, as stated by us and Brian Cashman. Gardner’s baseline is a 3-win player and he’ll be cheap making ~$5 mil or so in his last go-around in arbitration.

However, if the Yankees are to trade him, we hope they do it for someone who is young and could be under team control for a few years — while simultaneously addressing their second base need. One option could be Seattle’s Nick Franklin.

With Cano now in the Pacific Northwest, the 22-year old second baseman is obviously on the outside looking in. Franklin can also play SS, but he’s blocked there by Brad Miller. Thus, it’s safe to say Franklin is excess goods.

The 2009 1st round draft pick was the Mariners’ best hitting prospect heading into 2013. However, his rookie season was a failed campaign, as he hit only .225/.303/.382 (90 wRC+) in 272 PA.

Prior to his MLB debut, Franklin hit .287/.360/.459 during his minor league career, including a .324/.440/.472 final stop at Triple-A Tacoma (39 games). So, do we disregard his youth and minor league success because of a poor 270 PA in the bigs?

Even with his lousy rookie campaign in the books, the OLIVER projection system forecasts Franklin to be a high 2-win to low-3 win player over the next 5 years. That’s better than both Omar Infante and Brandon Phillips.

In addition to Gardner, the Yankees could also throw Ichiro into the deal. Ichiro could be a starter in the Mariner outfield, where their players combined for a negative WAR in 2013. At the least, Ichiro would serve as a good defensive replacement and baserunner for a team that has zero depth. Additionally, it would be the feel-good story of the offseason, as Ichiro goes home to a place where he is still loved and respected.

Trading Gardner to anyone will likely result in a step backwards in wins. However, by trading Gardner and Ichiro, it would free up ~ $11 million under the Hal-Cap™, and hopefully that money could be used to make up one or two wins elsewhere on the roster. More importantly, you would trade one year of Gardner (a free agent after 2014) for a 5-year cost-controlled player who has the potential to be perennially above-average at a position of great need.