KANSAS CITY -- Joakim Soria's 2011 season wasn't up to his usual standards, but the Royals obviously see him as one of the game's premier closers.

So it was no surprise that the club picked up his 2012 option for $6 million on Monday, the deadline for the contract action. The Royals could have declined the option for a $750,000 buyout.

Soria will be in the fourth year of a six-year deal he signed with the Royals on May 17, 2008. Remaining are club options at $8 million for 2013 and $8.75 million for 2014.

The past season included some difficult times for Soria. At one point, after five blown saves and a 6.55 ERA on May 30, he and manager Ned Yost agreed he needed a break from the closer's role. After a couple of low-stress outings, he was back in the saddle.

After that, Soria converted 21 of 23 save opportunities and finished with 28 saves. But that was his lowest total since 17 in his rookie season of 2007, and he recorded his most blown saves (seven), most losses (five) and his highest ERA (4.03). However, in five seasons, he's converted 160 of 180 save chances and posted a 2.40 ERA.

"He's been spectacular for us. If you look at the body of his work over the last five years, he's been terrific," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. "At times, he struggled last year, but there was also a period when he saved 12 in a row and was very good. Moving forward, for us to put together a strong pitching staff, it's important to have Joakim Soria as part of that."

Soria missed the Royals' last 14 games because of a pulled right hamstring, sustained on Sept. 11 while notching a save at Seattle. That cost him a chance to match Dan Quisenberry as the only Royals' reliever to have 30 or more saves in four consecutive seasons.

"He's fine and he feels good," Moore said. "It wasn't a real concern for us."

When Soria took his break in late May, Yost designated Aaron Crow as the interim closer, but during his September absence, Greg Holland assumed the role. Holland finished with four saves, the only other pitcher other than Soria with more than one.