Yankees: Details reveal Cashman’s tax wizardry with Gardner and Wilson

Did you ever have any doubt that Yankees GM Brian Cashman — as well as assistant GM and budget genius Jean Afterman — would find their way under the luxury tax threshold after it was mandated?

No. Of course they would.

But in an offseason where, like it or not, every dollar matters more than ever, Cashman and Afterman appear to have maneuvered their budget sneakily into a home run.

The team announced the Brett Gardner and Justin Wilson deals on Tuesday, and fans immediately noticed a series of similarities. In fact, the two contracts ended up borderline identical after receiving a budgetary facelift.

In essence, it became completely clear that the Yankees’ preferred roster makeover — Adam Ottavino’s salary for Darren O’Day, Wilson and Gardner — was pulled off perfectly.

And the method behind Cashman’s madness also resulted in nearly $4 million of additional and unexpected savings, once the dust settled.

As long as MLB doesn’t hammer the Yankees on these loopholes, that is.

How much money did Brian Cashman save the Yankees?

Using these player options to slightly defer salary to next season, and creating guaranteed bonuses in terms of buyout dollars if both parties decline their options, helps the Yankees stay even further under the lowest tax threshold this year, paving the way for a maneuver at the trade deadline.

All told, the Yankees saved a remarkable $3.7 million total between Gardner, Wilson and Darren O’Day’s deals, simply due to salary management and bonus conversion.

In an offseason like 2020-21, that’s an awful lot of free wiggle room.

The Yankees’ space under the tax now totals approximately $5.853 million, meaning well over half the available space is comprised of these well-negotiated clauses that were pushed to next year’s payroll.

The Bombers have a few players on minor-league deals who may see their contract totals added to this pile — namely, Adam Warren and Derek Dietrich, with Jay Bruce also involved despite Gardner’s addition.

Excepting those few, New York should have enough space to add a single pre-arbitration player at the trade deadline if the need arises.

But they wouldn’t, if not for Cashman and Afterman’s creative accounting. Credit where credit’s due.