Lucas Sims Loses Arbitration Case

The Reds beat reliever Lucas Sims in arbitration, reports Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer (Twitter link). Sims will be paid at the team’s filing rate of $1.2MM this season; he’d been seeking a $1.6MM salary.

A former first-round pick of the Braves, Sims struggled as a starting pitcher during his rookie season in 2017. Atlanta dealt him to Cincinnati at the 2018 deadline, and he’s since worked primarily out of the bullpen. He was bounced on and off the big league roster through 2019 but emerged as a high-leverage option during the shortened 2020 season. Sims posted a 2.45 ERA while striking out a third of opponents through 25 2/3 innings that year.

The right-hander struck out an even more impressive 39% of batters faced last season. He also collected the first seven saves of his career and held nine leads, but 37% of the baserunners he allowed came around to score and he served up 4.40 earned runs per nine innings.

This year’s arbitration process is anomalous because of the lockout, which froze offseason business for more than three months. The delay forced unsettled arb cases to be resolved in-season, as logistical hurdles prevented them from being handled during the customary February and March time period. Nevertheless, the hearings are to be decided based on players’ pre-2022 bodies of work, so Sims’ performance this year should not have been a factor in the result.

There would not have been much to go on in Sims’ case anyhow, as he’s been limited to six appearances by injury. Back spasms have hampered him for a few months, and he’s spent the past four weeks on the 15-day IL. He struggled during his limited look on the active roster, seemingly impacted by the back issue.

This was Sims’ first season of arbitration-eligibility. He’ll be eligible twice more before first qualifying for free agency after the 2024 season, assuming the team continues to tender him contracts.

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