I found out via Baseball America that NPB veteran Jeremy Powell has signed a minor-league deal with the Pirates. Here's what BA had to say about Powell:
You might remember Powell as a nondescript righthander with the late-90s Expos. But given that he played his last game in this country in June 2001, you'd be forgiven if he had been expunged from memory. Montreal's fourth-round pick in 1994, Powell peaked with the '99 Expos, compiling the sixth-most innings on the squad (behind Dustin Hermanson, Mike Thurman, Javier Vazquez, Miguel Batista and Carl Pavano and finishing just ahead of Anthony Telford) and going 4-8, 4.73 in 17 starts. He joined the Padres organization as a free agent in 2001, a decision that proved to be career altering. The then-25 Powell pitched well for Triple-A Portland (63-14 K-BB and 1.58 ERA in 74 innings as a starter), sure, but that success was nothing compared with the eight-year run in Japan that he embarked upon that summer. Unlike many players, who struggle to adjust to both Japanese baseball and culture, Powell was a success almost from the get-go. His first season with Kinetsu was shaky, but from 2002 through 2006, he went 63-52, 3.73 while averaging 150 strikeouts, 49 walks and 194 innings per season. His '07 and '08 campaigns featured ERAs of 5.80 and 5.29, however, so the 32-year-old Powell now will try to latch on with the Pirates.
JP's last two seasons in Japan were marred by injuries and a contract controversy with Orix and SoftBank. Best of luck to Jeremy in catching on in Pittsburgh.