The baseball trade rumor mill is operating full tilt at the playoffs, Yankees thickly involved. Just as the Bronx brass denied it had completed a deal sending Paul Elair, two minor leaguers, and a bundle of cash to Texas for center fielder Juan Beniquez (yes, the scuttlebutt is that Mickey Rivers is about to be gone) more fuel was poured on the one about Thurman Munson, Sparky Lyle and more maybe going to Pittsburgh for Dave Parker.

Those remember, are only rumors for now, but Bobby Bonds, the outfielder traded for real Tuesday from the Rangers to Cleveland, says he will retire rather than report to the Indians next spring. Such a move would forfeit the final four years of a five-year contract estimated at $2 million; says Bonds. "They can cram the money. Money doesn't make it. I'm sick of talking about money!" One story is that he is sick, too, of moving around - fifth team in four years; another is that he doesn't want to play for Gabe Paul, Indian president who, when in the Yankee front office, traded him away from New York.

Teofilo Stevenson, Cuba's two-time Olympic heavyweight champion, is in New York to box Jimmy Clark on tomorrow night's U.S.-Cuba 11-bout amateur card in Madison Square Garden. And Bob Arum, Top Rank promoter, says the Cuban Boxing Federation has approved matching Stevenson with Muhammad Ali in a series of five three-rounders at various sites - "they will not be exhibition bouts, nor will they be chamionship bouts," probably in a span of two or three weeks next year.

Larry Holmes, professional world cochampion with Ali, will make his first WBC title defense against Spain's Alfredo Evangelista in another heavyweight prime-time TV production, Nov. 10, Las Vegas. Promoter Don King announced yesterday a tripleheader that Friday featuring Ken Norton vs. Lucien Rodrigues of France, 10 rounds, and Jimmy Young vs. Randy Stephens, 10 rounds, preliminary to Holmes' fight with Evangelista, the Spaniard who went 15 rounds with Ali in Capital Centre last year.

Ray Leonard scaled 152 pounds in a prefight physical for tomorrow night's Baltimore Civic Center engagement with rugged Randy Shields - evidently Sugar won't be welterweight for long-Area boxers in prelims will include Lee Saenx in a 10-round middleweight semiwindup; Roger Leonard, Ray's welterweight brother, in one six-rounder and 6-8, 250-pound Dave Johnson of Bowie in another.