(CBS) Well before the Cubs and White Sox finalized a blockbuster trade centered on left-hander Jose Quintana on Thursday, the two clubs had briefly inquired about a deal for another big name: ace Chris Sale.

It was last offseason, prior to the White Sox dealing Sale to the Red Sox on Dec. 6 in a deal that netted them top prospects in Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech. The Cubs had long been seeking elite, cost-controlled pitching, and the White Sox had Sale on the market since at least last July. Then they really put him on the auction block at baseball’s Winter Meetings.

There was one problem with the Cubs’ desire to add Sale: the White Sox’s asking price.

“Frankly, I thought the chances of a deal between the two clubs of this magnitude were slim, at best, really a long shot,” Epstein said Thursday in reference to the Quintana deal before turning his attention back to the Sale discussion.

“When Chris Sale was being put to the market, I called Rick and told him we were very interested. I was told that it would have to be a huge package, including Kris Bryant, or there was nothing to talk about. And Kris had just won the MVP award. So I figured it would be next to impossible to get a deal done for Quintana, especially without taking away significant pieces off our major league team.”

Epstein didn’t go into any more details Thursday on that trade inquiry.