KANSAS CITY -- Decision days lie ahead for the Royals, and one determination will be if starting pitcher Kyle Davies will be coming back in 2011.
There's already been some adjusting in the rotation with right-hander Vin Mazzaro, obtained from Oakland in the David DeJesus deal, projected as being an addition to the five starters. A subtraction after four seasons was Brian Bannister, who chose free agency rather than going to Triple-A.
Davies made 32 starts last season, just one fewer than Zack Greinke, and finished with an 8-12 record and a 5.34 ERA. Those weren't glamorous numbers, and there's been some speculation that the Royals might not offer Davies a contract when the Dec. 2 tender date rolls around. After all, he's making $1.8 million now, and with salary arbitration coming up, that figure is likely to jump.
"We'll see what happens," Davies said. "With an ERA of five-and-a-half, you can't really expect to have the Royals real excited about giving you a contract but, if you were there, you noticed I stayed healthy all year and that's the way I want my career to be -- one of those guys who can make 34 starts a year and pitch close to 200 innings."
Not only that, but Davies believes he made significant improvement in the second half after mechanical adjustments that gave him a consistent arm slot and had him leaning forward more in his delivery.
"I haven't heard anything from the Royals -- if they're going to tender me or non-tender me," Davies said, "but I'd love for them to tender me because I believe I'm onto something. But if they don't, obviously, you can understand why. But, for me, no question I got better and I'm onto something. A lot of people say that, but I really believe it."
General manager Dayton Moore, while discussing the acquisition of Mazzaro last week, listed Davies among the Royals' probable rotation.
"I think Kyle Davies' best years are still ahead of him. I think he continues to get better. He's just 27 years old next year, so there's still some upside there, I think," Moore said.
That sounds encouraging for Davies' desire to remain in Kansas City. The best is yet to come, he believes.
"I think that's what's happening, because I know for a fact that I pitched better than I ever have last year," Davies said. "You look at the stats and, yeah, they don't show it ... but everyone knows that I pitched better than my stats showed."
He felt that his command, always an issue with him, improved down the stretch. In fact, he went 7 1/3 innings against the Indians with no walks on Aug. 19 and eight innings against Detroit on Sept. 22 with just one.
Those two outings were among his four longest of the season, and both came within his last nine starts.
"I should be an innings-eater, and I think I showed late in the year that I could do that," he said.
He finished 16 1/3 innings shy of 200. Greinke led the club with 220 innings.
For now, Davies is in the Atlanta area supervising the building of a new house on 70 acres that he and his wife, Katie, purchased. It's a wooded area with a creek near where Davies grew up at Stockbridge, Ga.
Davies happily reported that Katie is to deliver their first child, a boy, next year around Opening Day. By then, he hopes to still be calling Kansas City his baseball home.
"I know I made some strides and I hope they give me another chance," Davies said. "If not, I know I had a season where I got something actually accomplished instead of just trying to find it, trying to find it, trying to find it."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.