The Atlanta Braves, if nothing else, are being realistic about their pursuit of Jon Lester.

The Braves, who reportedly were scheduled to meet with Lester on Thursday, clearly entered into the situation with the understanding they face some stiff competition in their quest to land the free-agent pitcher. Braves president of baseball operations John Hart even noted that signing Lester is a “long shot.” [tweet align=’center’]

Lester lives in Atlanta during the offseason, so the Braves certainly have one thing going for them in their sales pitch. It’s unclear whether they’ll be able to meet the left-hander’s financial demands, though, as the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Toronto Blue Jays and St. Louis Cardinals also have shown interest, according to various reports.

Lester reportedly met with the Red Sox and Cubs this week, in addition to the Braves. The veteran hurler spent his first eight-plus seasons in Boston before being traded to the Oakland Athletics at this year’s Major League Baseball non-waiver trade deadline.

Lester, who turns 31 in January, is coming off an excellent season in which he posted a 16-11 record and 2.46 ERA in 32 starts split between Boston and Oakland.

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