This puts Dennis Eckersley "among the top 10 paid players in the game," agent Ed Keating proclaimed as the Red Sox' 20-game winner agreed "in principle" on a five-year contract extension, through 1984. If true, that puts Reggie Jackson out of the top 10, since unofficial listings showed his estimated $532,000 a year to be No. 10 "I love it here in Boston," gurgled fat-cat Eckersley after consummating the deal on opener's eve yesterday at Fenway Park, where today he takes the mound against ex-Bosoxer Rick Wise.

Rusty Staub is coming to Detroit Friday, but not to rejoin the Tigers. The holdout designated hitter is making the trip to attend the wedding of Tiger first baseman Jason Thompson, who meant to take advantage of the scheduled day off between the club's first two games to get married. Thompson is among players, in a house divided on the issue, supporting Staub's case for a three-year extension of his $200,000-a-year contract that has through 1980 to run; Staub feels his 121 RBI in 1978 merit that and young Thompson says management's failure to work things out with his 35-year-old teammate "proves they're not serious about winning." On the other hand, Ron LeFlore says Staub has shown no feelings for his teammates by his absence and threatened retirement.

No. 1 on the salary list, Dave Parker, wound up Pittsburg's exhibition season with his 10th homer, 23rd and 24th preseason RBI and a 470 average . . . No. 2 Pete Rose, the new Phillie, collected three hits in his Florida finale to finish 12 for 62, .194.