LSU to Pay Wes Johnson Double What Twins Did

Photo: MLB.com

The Minnesota Twins lost their pitching coach, Wes Johnson, on Sunday evening when he was hired by the LSU Tigers, for the same job. It was a shocking news drop that caught everyone, including the organization, off guard.

When disbelief turned to curious frustration, the question was obvious. Why in the hell would Wes Johnson leave the Twins for a college job, especially this time of year. Well, rumors quickly swirled that Johnson’s motives were likely based in cash.

Money Talks.

Apparently, top-tier college baseball programs pay pitching coaches A LOT more than what MLB organizations are willing to dole out. Now, The Athletic has put a dollar value on Johnson’s difference in salary. According to sources, Wes will make more than double the salary at LSU ($750K), than what he pulled in each year with the Minnesota Twins (~$350K).

Johnson reportedly received an annual salary around $350,000 from the Twins when he left the University of Arkansas for MLB in November 2018. He will now be paid $750,000 per year by LSU, sources confirmed.The Athletic (Dan Hayes, Aaron Gleeman)

Again, the Twins were caught by surprise by Wes Johnson’s sudden exodus and, according to multiple reports, he didn’t give Falvine & Co an opportunity to make a counter offer. Would they have matched such a large raise? We may never know.

There were other variables in play. LaVelle E Neal (Star Tribune) told Paul Allen on KFAN that Johnson is, in part, going back to the SEC for family reasons. He’s from Arkansas, where much of his family still resides, and coached there before he was hired by the Twins.

Speaking of the Razorbacks program, Johnson’s mentor and Arkansas legendary head coach, Dave VanHorn, is 61-years-old and thinking about calling it a career, sooner rather than later. Phil Miller (Star Tribune) reported last night that Wes Johnson might have head coaching dreams on his mind, as well.

Timing isn’t everything.

As for the timing, it’s unlikely he had a choice, if he wanted to accept the job offer. Yes, the college baseball season is over. But at the highest level of D1, the offseason isn’t off. So it’s reasonable to believe the Tigers want Wes Johnson around to help scout, recruit and develop their talent over the summer and into fall ball. It was probably a ‘take it now, or leave it’ offer. And after seeing his new salary, I can’t blame him for taking it.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan