It was always far-fetched that the Braves would be able to sign Jon Lester this offseason. His ties to the Atlanta area made him an appealing candidate for sure, but considering he's been one of the better pitchers in baseball over the last half decade, no one should've really expected him to sign.
This latest report out of Chicago says the Cubs have offered the southpaw "north of $135 million" over six years, which is obviously way out of the Braves' price range. It has also been reported that the Giants, Red Sox and other teams with deep pockets are intrigued by Lester. Money may not be everything to him, but it certainly counts for something, and there's no way John Hart wins a bidding war with some of baseball's richest franchises.
We'll never really know whether or not the Braves were serious in their pursuit – it was pretty convenient how rumors of meeting with Lester *magically* leaked a couple hours after they pissed off everyone with the Jason Heyward trade – but it was at least fun to talk about.
Short of the club landing another young frontline starter in a trade, it would seem likely one of the cheaper free agents like Justin Masterson or Edinson Volquez would be the next guy to pursue.