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The Red Sox also are high on rookie catcher Ryan Lavarnway, who was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on Aug. 1. Now they’re likely to get some top prospects, if a trade with the Dodgers is finalized, and have extra money to sign free agents.

The Red Sox had placed Gonzalez on waivers, ESPN reported. Teams often do that to gauge other clubs’ interest in players then try to work out a trade.

“Waiver questions? I’m not talking about that,” Gonzalez said before Friday night’s game.

Boston began the season with a payroll of $173.2 million, behind only the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies.

The Red Sox paid luxury tax in each of the past two seasons. Baseball’s new labor contract contains incentives for teams that get their luxury tax payroll _ based on 40-man rosters, average annual values and including benefits _ under $189 million by 2014.

Henry, Lucchino and co-owner Tom Werner and general manager Ben Cherington did not respond to emails seeking comment.

The Dodgers began the day 1 1-2 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the second wild-card berth in the NL.

“It’s crazy,” said Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro, who spent 2010-11 with the Red Sox. “They want to win _ this year, next year, whenever.”

Gonzalez, a three-time Gold Glove award winner, could provide a big boost for the Dodgers.

After a slow start, he is hitting .300 with 15 homers and 86 RBIs for the season and leads the majors with a .398 batting average with runners in scoring position. He was better last year, his first with Boston, when he batted .338 with 27 homers and 117 RBIs.

Crawford has been a disappointment in his two seasons with the Red Sox. He underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery Thursday to reconstruct the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow and could be ready by spring training.

He hit .282 with three homers and 19 RBIs after batting .255 with 11 homers and 56 RBIs last year. He missed the first 89 games this season while recovering from left wrist surgery, then hurt his elbow in April while rehabbing. He came off the disabled list July 16.

Beckett is in the midst of the worst of his 12 major league seasons with a 5-11 record and a 5.23 ERA, He is 1-7 in his past 13 starts in his seventh season with Boston.

Punto, a backup player, is hitting .200 in 125 at bats.

Loney is having a mediocre year and can become a free agent after the season. He is hitting .254 with four homers and 33 RBIs in 114 games in his seventh major league season, all with the Dodgers.

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