The deal, all of the Chicago Cubs players in return for all of the Boston Red Sox players, was not accepted by new Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington.
"I don't want to panic anyone, but with this trade not happening, we're going to suck for a long time, if not forever," said Epstein. "My expertise is more in the area of running really talented teams. Without those Red Sox players, I'm kind of out of my element. My rebuilding effort was based on getting Jacoby Ellsbury, Adrian Gonzalez and all of their pitchers except John Lackey."
After the Red Sox initially turned down his offer, Epstein says he sat silently in his office for about an hour, staring at the wall, stunned.
"I considered resigning, because this was my one shot at making the Cubs a winner," he said.
But then he had an idea and called Cherington back.
"My first offer was all of the Cubs for all of the Red Sox except Lackey, figuring they might want to clean the slate after how their season ended," he said. "The second time I agreed to take Lackey, too."
"I seriously considered the deal in which the Cubs took Lackey," said Cherington. "But then I realized that as much as I'd like to be rid of John Lackey, it's foolish to trade him and all of my other players for what is basically a team full of John Lackeys."
Epstein says he had hoped his former protege would accept his Cubs-Red Sox swap out of gratitude for his new job in Boston.
"It goes to show that loyalty means nothing to the Red Sox organization," said Epstein. "Hey, I don't follow the National League very closely, but the Phillies are supposed to be good, right? Do you think they'd trade all of their good players for Alfonso Soriano? I'm making the call right now."