Shortstop Bucky Dent, praised only hours before by owner George Steinbrenner as "one of the most outstanding men we've ever had," was traded today by the New York Yankees to the Texas Rangers for Lee Mazzilli.

As reported in Sunday's editions, the Yankees had agreed to trade Dent, 30, one of the heroes on New York's 1978 championship team, to the Rangers for Mazzilli, 27, a favorite of New York fans during his six years with the Mets.

"Mazzilli is a fine player and a very popular one in New York," said Bill Bergesch, the Yankees' vice president. "He's a fine addition to the club because of his versatility. We welcome him back to New York."

In a news conference called 15 minutes before the opening game of a doubleheader against Texas, Steinbrenner said he had just talked to Dent for 30 minutes to "get his thoughts" and lauded the shortstop.

"If Bucky Dent were ever traded from this ballclub, it would not be because he isn't probably one of the most outstanding young men we've ever had," said Steinbrenner.

Steinbrenner also confirmed talks are under way involving left-hander Tommy John, who pitched in the second game today. Earlier in the tumultuous week--which included the firing of Gene Michael as manager Tuesday night--John asked to be traded. Steinbrenner revealed today he was not satisfied with the offers for the pitcher.

"There is no deal at this point for Tommy John. I'm not saying there will be or won't be, but I wouldn't bet on it if I were a betting man.

"Boston offered us a player in the minor leagues, and we have mixed reports on the condition of (California pitcher) Bruce Kison," said Steinbrenner. "We're not interested in anyone that possibly could have an injury problem, but I'm not saying that there won't be a trade."

"I felt they would announce my trade this afternoon," said John, adding, "I've done a lot of searching and thinking and I just don't see me fitting into the Yankees' plans in the future. I think for my benefit, because I still like to play baseball, it's imperative that I go someplace where I'll fit into their plans for more than six more weeks."