CHICAGO -- Will Venable is leaving the Chicago Cubs' front office to be their first-base coach.

The former major league outfielder was hired last summer as a special assistant to president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer.

The 35-year-old Venable replaces Brandon Hyde, who has been promoted to bench coach for manager Joe Maddon.

The Cubs also announced Tuesday that they had hired Jim Benedict as a special assistant to baseball operations. Benedict spent the previous two seasons as the vice president for pitching development for the Miami Marlins.

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All nine $17.4 million qualifying offers made by teams earlier this month were rejected Thursday, the Major League Baseball Players Association announced.

The deadline for the players -- the Kansas City Royals' Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain; the Chicago Cubs' Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis; the Tampa Bay Rays' Alex Cobb; the Colorado Rockies' Greg Holland; the St. Louis Cardinals' Lance Lynn; and the Cleveland Indians' Carlos Santana -- to accept the $17.4 million offers was Thursday at 5 p.m. ET.

By making the offers, the six teams ensure they will get an extra draft pick as compensation if the players sign with a new team.

Any new club signing one of the nine players would lose at least one draft selection (outside of its highest first-round selection) and possibly international bonus pool money depending on the financial status of the franchise.

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Rumor Central: Cubs, Alex Cobb share mutual interest?

November, 15, 2017
Nov 15
Gene J. Puskar/AP PhotoChicago reportedly reached out to Cobb when free agency began and had preliminary discussions with his agent at the recent GM meetings.

Connections between the right-hander and key members of Chicago's coaching staff are not difficult to see.
Andrew Hancock/ESPNTheo Epstein and the Cubs' brass have moves to make to ensure that their postseason streak continues.

Theo Epstein's Cubs need to restock the rotation and find a closer. Can they do enough to keep their streak of postseason appearances alive?

Six first-time winners among 2017 Gold Glovers

November, 7, 2017
Nov 7

Nolan Arenado, Jason Heyward and Alex Gordon each won a fifth career Gold Glove Award on Tuesday night.

The prizes for defensive excellence were announced by Rawlings for the 60th time.

Arenado, the All-Star Colorado Rockies third baseman, joins Ichiro Suzuki as the only players to win at least five Gold Gloves to start their careers, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"Obviously, five, it's a pretty special number," Arenado said. "It means a lot. ... Right now I want to try to win as many as I can while I'm healthy."

Heyward joins Andre Dawson as the only Cubs outfielders to win consecutive Gold Gloves, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

This year's honorees feature 12 previous winners and six first-time winners:

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Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesJake Arrieta will be in high demand this winter -- can the Cubs make him an offer he can't refuse?

With free agency about to get underway, the offseason is going to pick up steam. What are the big questions facing all 30 teams?

Chicago Cubs: Who will the Cubs turn to for much-needed pitching help?

2017 record: 92-70

2018 World Series odds: 10-1

Vote: What should the Cubs do this offseason?

Back-to-back division titles have the Cubs in a good position. But the front office has known for a couple of years that this offseason would be all about finding more arms. They need quality and quantity: Two holes have opened in the starting staff, and a bunch of question marks surround the bullpen, which imploded in October.

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The Chicago Cubs won the NL Central once again in 2017, but the Los Angeles Dodgers denied them an opportunity to repeat as world champions. They'll look to make some adjustments and improve their roster now that free agency and the building of the 2018 team are underway. 

What's their biggest need? Which one move would you like to see them make before spring training? Would any of Keith Law's Top 50 free agentsInsider look good in Cubbie blue? Weigh in on the Cubs' offseason below and check out the other 29 teams here.

Keep track of the latest signings, acquisitions and rumored moves for every team from now through the start of spring training on 

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NEW YORK -- Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, third baseman Mike Moustakas and outfielder Lorenzo Cain were among nine free agents who have received $17.4 million qualifying offers from their teams.

Chicago Cubs pitchers Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis also received the offers Monday, as did Tampa Bay pitcher Alex Cobb, Colorado closer Greg Holland, St. Louis pitcher Lance Lynn and Cleveland catcher Carlos Santana.

Players have until Nov. 16 to accept. If they sign with new teams, their old clubs would get an extra draft pick as compensation -- possibly a much lower selection than in the past under the rules in baseball's new labor contract.

A club signing one of the players who didn't accept would lose a draft selection -- no longer a first-round pick -- and possibly part of its international bonus pool allocation for 2018-19.

The 166 free agents could start negotiating contracts with all teams starting Monday evening.

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CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs have extended qualifying offers to pitchers Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis, ensuring that the Cubs will receive draft-pick compensation if the players sign with other teams.

Chicago also claimed right-hander Cory Mazzoni off waivers from the San Diego Padres on Monday. Outfielder Leonys Martin was assigned to Triple-A Iowa, and the Cubs selected pitcher Matt Carasiti's contract from their top farm club.

Arrieta, who won the NL Cy Young Award in 2015, went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA in 30 starts this year.

Davis, who was acquired in a trade with Kansas City in December, had 32 saves with the Cubs and was an All-Star for the third straight season.

Arrieta and Davis have until Nov. 16 to decide on their $17.4 million, one-year qualifying offers. Both players are expected to decline the proposals.

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Mike Nelson/EPAThe Astros pile up after winning Game 7 -- but are they really a lock to do so again?

While Houston can bask in the afterglow of a title won with young talent, a coaching shakeup in Chicago reflects how hard it can be to repeat.

The Houston Astros' front office received a delicious gift from the Chicago Cubs on Friday.

The Cubs had 40 pizzas delivered to Minute Maid Park before the Astros' championship parade, per the Houston Chronicle, continuing a tradition of the previous year's World Series winner sending congratulatory cheesy goodness to the new champions.

This practice began in 2014, when the Boston Red Sox gifted the San Francisco Giants with pizza. 

Winning never tasted so good. 

-- Alex Tekip

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The Houston Astros may be World Series champions, but the Los Angeles Dodgers are the favorites to win next year's title, according to the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.

Westgate opened the Dodgers as 5-1 favorites, with Clayton Kershaw and a strong lineup returning. Bob Scucci, director of race and sports for Boyd Gaming Corp., told ESPN that it opened the Dodgers at 4-1.

"We opened Los Angeles as the favorite because of the quality of the team and other factors, like our proximity to L.A. and their popularity," John Murray, associate manager at Westgate, told ESPN. "Houston is every bit as good and almost as young as the Dodgers, but they just don't attract the betting attention the Dodgers and Cubs do."

Ed Salmons, manager at Westgate, offered his take on the Dodgers.

"Deepest team in baseball with a ton of money and minor league prospects. Will be great for years to come," Salmons said.

The Cleveland Indians and Astros are tied at 6-1 odds, followed by the Washington Nationals at 7-1 and New York Yankees at 8-1. The Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs, two other playoff teams this season, are next at 10-1.

The Detroit Tigers have the worst odds to win the 2018 World Series at Westgate at 300-1.

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Davey Martinez will be announced as the new manager of the Washington Nationals after the World Series, a source told ESPN, confirming multiple reports.

FanRag Sports first reported the news. 

Martinez has agreed to a three-year deal with an option, the source told ESPN, confirming a report by The Washington Post. The value of the pact, which includes an option for a fourth year, has not been disclosed.

Martinez becomes the seventh full-time manager for the Nats since they moved from Montreal before the 2005 season. A former outfielder who played for nine different teams during his 16 years in the majors, he spent three and a half seasons with the Expos. Martinez's 431 games played for the Expos are his most for any franchise. Martinez ranks among the top 20 in franchise history in several categories, including his 22 triples (tied for 15th), his 68 stolen bases (18th) and his 70.83 stolen-base percentage (17th).

Martinez, 53, served as the bench coach under manager Joe Maddon for the past decade, starting with Tampa Bay from 2008 through 2014. When Maddon became the Chicago Cubs' skipper before the 2015 season, Martinez followed him there, where together the pair helped lead the Cubs to the 2016 World Series title, the team's first championship in 108 years.

Martinez has been a candidate for several managerial openings in recent years. After the 2014 season, he interviewed to be Washington's skipper, but the job ultimately went to first-time manager Matt Williams.

After the 2015 season, Williams was replaced by Dusty Baker, who won 192 games in two seasons and led the club to two straight National League East pennants. But the Nats were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs both times under Baker. Earlier in October, eight days after Washington lost 9-8 to the Cubs in Game 5 of the NLDS, the team announced that Baker would not be returning next season. 

New York Mets

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Anthony RizzoKevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesCubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo hosts several fundraisers every year, and his Rizzo Family Foundation has raised $4 million over the years helping families of cancer patients.

Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo was honored before Game 3 of the World Series on Friday as the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award.

The award is given out annually to the player who best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.

It's the award that Rizzo really wanted, he said, because winning it means he's helping to change lives.

"When I found out, it was really emotional for everyone involved in the foundation and my life," Rizzo said. "Baseball is my passion. I love playing baseball. I want to be the best I can be, but to be able to reach out and reach so many different people on a different level, I never overlook it."

Rizzo, 28, was a five-time nominee for the award before taking home the honors this season. His Rizzo Family Foundation has raised $4 million over the years helping families of cancer patients. Rizzo is a cancer survivor himself.

"Going to hospitals keeps me motivated," Rizzo said. "You see the looks on the kids' faces. It's a couple seconds away from reality from what they're going through when I go in there."

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Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington NationalsPatrick Smith/Getty ImagesNats ace Max Scherzer allowed four runs, two unearned, in the critical fifth inning of Game 5 against the Cubs.

Upon further review, the men in blue blew it.

On Thursday, MLB's chief baseball officer Joe Torre confirmed that the umpiring crew made the wrong call on a crucial passed ball in Game 5 of the National League Division Series between the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals.

The critical play occurred in the top of the fifth inning, when Chicago's Javier Baez swung at strike three from Nationals ace Max Scherzer, who had come on in relief to start the frame. The swing would've resulted in the third out, but the pitch got by Washington catcher Matt Wieters, allowing Baez to reach first and extend the inning.

Wieters argued that because he was struck by Baez's backswing, the play should have resulted in an out, ending a Chicago rally that had already produced two runs off of Scherzer. Had the umpires agreed with Wieters, the inning would have ended with the Cubs holding a 5-4 edge. 

Instead, Baez reached, and Chicago scored twice more to take a 7-4 lead before winning by a final score of 9-8 to eliminate Washington and advance to the National League Championship Series.

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Kris Bryant
.295 29 73 111
HRA. Rizzo 32
RBIA. Rizzo 109
RK. Bryant 111
OPSK. Bryant .946
WJ. Arrieta 14
ERAJ. Arrieta 3.53
SOJ. Lester 180