BALTIMORE -- As Dan Duquette discussed the team's moves at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, the Orioles' executive vice president of baseball operations signaled his intentions for the rest of the year.
"I like this team for this year. I like this team for next year," Duquette said. "You've seen fits and spurts of this team playing very, very good baseball. The consistency will come when we get a consistent, stable rotation."
Later that day the rotation delivered, as the Orioles got seven strong innings from right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, who allowed one run on five hits during a 2-1 win against the Kansas City Royals before 20,663 at Oriole Park July 31.
Outfielder Craig Gentry singled up the middle in the bottom of the ninth to score catcher Caleb Joseph with the winning run.
Zach Britton, pitching for the third straight day, threw a scoreless ninth, and the left-hander picked up his first win of the season as the Orioles won their third straight.
Instead of selling off Britton and right-hander Brad Brach, as many thought they would, the Orioles picked up starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson and infielder Tim Beckham.
Britton said he didn't want to be traded and was glad he wasn't.
"Just tried to treat it like a normal day," Britton said. "Understood there was stuff flying around, but I've been around long enough to know that stuff doesn't always happen just because someone says it might. So I just took it in stride."
When discussing Britton, Duquette expected similar offers to the blockbuster trades that were made a year ago -- when the New York Yankees dealt star closer Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians acquired Andrew Miller.
That market wasn't there this season, Duquette said. Britton is glad it wasn't.
"I think there was a period where I was like, 'OK this is where I'm going to stay.' I can relax and just pitch well and help this team win and get to the postseason," Britton said. "The thought of going somewhere else was completely done. It just got rid of maybe some of the awkwardness that I felt like was in the clubhouse before the deadline was over. Everyone just got back to normal."
Hellickson, who was added July 28, will look to stabilize an unsteady rotation, and even though he's a free agent at the end of the season -- as are Jimenez, right-hander Chris Tillman and left-hander Wade Miley -- the cost for him was outfielder Hyun Soo Kim, who hadn't seen much playing time this season.
Beckham gives the Orioles a possible solution to their 2018 shortstop question. He also plays second, and it's possible Jonathan Schoop could move to short next season with Beckham at second.
If Beckham can at least be part of the short-term solution at short as J.J. Hardy's contract expires, then the Orioles may look back on this day as a positive one.
But who will start for the team in 2018? Right-handers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman are the two returnees, and there's still a chance the Orioles could pick up Miley's $12 million option for next season.
However, the Orioles will be faced with a difficult decision with Britton during the offseason. Britton has a year left under club control and could make $14 or $15 million in arbitration, a figure that may not sit well with the team.
The team could try and trade him during the offseason. Perhaps they'll keep Britton as well as Schoop, first baseman Chris Davis, designated hitter Mark Trumbo and two stars who could be free agents after 2018 -- third baseman Manny Machado and center fielder Adam Jones.
Still, the players are happy there wasn't a July 31 sell-off.
"It's a vote of confidence. We're excited Zach is here," Joseph said. "I've played with Zach since '09, so even the thought of not playing with him is not fun."
Britton doesn't have to answer any more speculative questions -- for the time being at least.
"It can only be a good thing. You get some things off your mind that shouldn't be there and just focus on pitching," Britton said.
NOTES: Orioles manager Buck Showalter won his 1,480th game, tying him with Earl Weaver for 24th place on the all-time win list. … Right-handers Dylan Bundy (9-8, 4.53) and Ian Kennedy (4-6, 4.43) are the scheduled starters Aug. 1.
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox