SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge tossed out a lawsuit seeking to raise the pay of minor league baseball players.

A judge on Monday ruled Major League Baseball and team owners are protected from the legal challenge by a long-standing antitrust exemption granted by Congress.

The four former players had alleged MLB’s so-called reserve clause unfairly prevents them from selling their services to the highest bidder for seven years. The vast majority of minor league players earn salaries far below the Major League average annual salary of $4.2 million.

Lawyers for the minor league players said many earn less than $15,000 for a six-month season.

Lawyers for the players didn’t immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

The Associated Press