KANSAS CITY -- Right-hander Kyle Davies, expected to step it up as part of the Royals' rotation this year, signed a one-year contract for 2011 on Tuesday and avoided salary arbitration.
Davies signed for $3.2 million, a sizable increase over the $1.8 million he earned last year.
That leaves first baseman Billy Butler as the Royals' only arbitration-eligible player unsigned.
Davies made a career-high 32 starts last season -- just one fewer than staff leader Zack Greinke -- and posted an 8-12 record with a 5.34 ERA. Now Davies is tasked with helping to fill the void left by Greinke's trade to the Milwaukee Brewers.
"Kyle continues to develop more consistency and we think he's going to potentially take a big step forward in 2011 -- that's what we expect," said Royals general manager Dayton Moore.
"He has all the ingredients to be a very consistent quality starting pitcher, and we expect him to have a standout performance for us this year."
At age 27, Davies last year made progress in his annual battle to control his fastball, especially late in the season after making some adjustments in his delivery.
"Over a period of time, he was one of our more consistent pitchers," Moore said. "He's commanding his pitches and he's got an outstanding curveball, a slider and changeup and enough fastball to get by most hitters if located properly. It's all there for Kyle to be a very good pitcher."
Davies was acquired from the Atlanta Braves on July 31, 2007, and since has a 28-35 record with a 5.15 ERA in 86 starts for the Royals. His overall big league mark is 42-56 with a 5.49 ERA in 138 games.For his part, Davies believes the Royals have been able to bulk up their rotation since trading Greinke.
"I just saw that we signed Bruce [Chen] back and then getting [Jeff] Francis in so where it looked like we wouldn't have as many veteran starting pitchers, now we have a lot of them -- and two left-handers," he said. "So there's a big difference right there. I think by getting some of the young guys that were cost-effective from the Greinke deal, we were able to get two left-handed starting pitchers. So that's a plus."
Davies changed his delivery last season to lean forward more, which improved his balance and helped his control and the life of his pitches.
"What made it work was that I was able to command the ball a lot better and that's what's going to be continued to be worked on and refined and done," he said. "This offseason I've been really, really hounding on repeating that delivery that I was doing at the end of the year and looking forward to bringing it into Spring Training."
Davies pitched 183 2/3 innings, a career high last season, and has now logged 706 2/3 in his career.
He's at the stage of his career where many pitchers hit a productive high.
"They say the peak for pitchers is like, what, 27 to 33 or something like that," Davies said. "For a starting pitcher in the Major Leagues, it takes a lot of innings. You look at Zack. How many innings did he pitch before it clicked? Look at a lot of people, just about everybody. There's not a whole lot of people that come into the league like Tim Lincecum that goes right away."
Davies said his goal is to go deeper into games this season and pitch at least 200 innings.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.