While the fifth spot is a bit unknown at this point, the signing of Jesse Hahn could turn out to be a steal for the KC Royals if he can get back to his old form.
The fifth spot in the rotation for the KC Royals is ultimately a toss-up. It’s difficult to decide who might take over the spot as it seems the Royals either have relief pitchers with some shaky starts, or starters who didn’t cut it and have been moved to a relief role.
For this reason, Jesse Hahn becomes the fifth starter in this prediction. Hahn was non-tendered and became a free agent in early December, only to be resigned by the Royals a few weeks later to a club-friendly contract.
There has been mention of the Royals using Hahn in a bullpen role for 2020, but if he can show he still has what it takes in spring training, he may be on his way to the starting rotation instead.
Hahn originally came to the Royals in an offseason trade with the Oakland Athletics along with Heath Fillmyer for Ryan Buchter and Brandon Moss. Unfortunately, since he has come over in that trade, Hahn has not seen much time with the team as he has been injured and recovering from surgery.
In 2019, Hahn saw his first major league innings since being with Oakland. He was used in 6 relief appearances over 4.2 innings. His strikouts per 9 jumps out at 13.5 over this small sample, but so does his high walks per 9 at 11.6 and his ERA at 13.50.
Of course, this sample is incredibly small, but it is still concerning. The Royals obviously saw something they liked, though, leading to the team resigning him to a year contract. While Hahn has not seen the time over the last few years that some pitchers have, he has seen the time in the past as a starter.
Whether minor or major league innings, Hahn has spent the majority of his time starting games for both Oakland and San Diego. It will remain unknown what Hahn can really produce until spring training, but if he can keep the ball under control and pitch as he has in the past, he will likely be the fifth man on the Royals starting rotation for 2020.