On November 18, 1997, the Red Sox traded prospects to a rebuilding team for a young, dynamic starting pitcher. This pitcher had just turned 26 and was coming off the best year of his career, posting a 9.0 WAR on the way to his first Cy Young. With his previous team, this pitcher averaged 199 IP, 211 SO, 3.06 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 5 WAR per season over four years. Despite his greatness, this pitcher's team never made the playoffs.
On December 6, 2016, the Red Sox traded prospects to a rebuilding team for another young, dominant starting pitcher. He was just 27 years old and coming off a fifth place Cy Young finish, his fourth straight year in the top five. With his previous team, he averaged 204 IP, 226 SO, 2.97 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, and 5.5 WAR per season over five years. He, too, had never pitched in a playoff game.
Additionally, both had problems controlling their emotions.
Of course, the first pitcher is Pedro Martinez and the second is Chris Sale. The similarities are pretty crazy; even Pedro said Sale reminded him of himself after his first start this season. And the comparisons don't stop with their pre-Red Sox careers. Take a look at the numbers from their first three starts with Boston.
1998 was the start of a seven year stretch of dominance for Pedro. His season averages with the Red Sox: 7.7 WAR, 198 IP, 240 SO, 2.52 ERA, and 0.98 WHIP. He won back-to-back Cy Youngs in 1999 and 2000 and pitched in the playoffs four times. White Sox fans are hoping for a better return than the Expos' package of Carl Pavano and Tony Armas. However, I think the over/under on 25.3 career WAR (what Pavano and Armas amassed) for Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech is harder than most think.
I look forward to seeing Sale's career develop in Boston. 2017 could result in his first Cy Young and playoff appearance. We'll probably never see a 1998-2004 Pedro run again, but Sale (or Kershaw) is the guy that could come close. If you recall, it was Sale in 2015 that tied Pedro's record for eight straight double-digit strikeout games.